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Slovakia sends troops to Hungarian border to curb migration

October 31, 2023

The government said more than 40,000 undocumented migrants had been detected within its borders this year. Slovakia is often used as a transit points by migrants crossing into countries in the west of Europe.

Illegal migrants cross the Slovakia-Hungarian border near Vyskovce Nad Iplom, Slovakia on September 6, 2023.
Slovakia says some 40,000 illegal migrants have crossed into its territory this yearImage: Robert Nemeti/AA/picture alliance

Slovakia's newly formed government has announced the deployment of hundreds of police officers and troops along the Hungarian border, to contain the growing number of migrants illegally crossing into the country.

Newly appointed populist Prime Minister Robert Fico said illegal migration must be controlled, warning that people linked to "terrorist" groups could otherwise enter the country.

He did not give details of the deployment, but he visited one of the border crossings late on Monday to review the measures.

"We want to send a clear signal that with the new government, a new approach to illegal migration has come," said Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok.

Addressing reporters, he added that "massive forces" would be deployed to defend the border areas with Hungary that are not official crossing points.

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Why is Slovakia concerned about its borders?

Slovakia has recently witnessed a growing number of migrants and asylum seekers using it as a transit country to cross largely from Serbia via Hungary, en route to Western European countries.

On October 5, the previous Slovak government had resumed random checks at the border with Hungary. The decision came after European Union neighbors Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland reintroduced controls at their Slovak borders to contain migration.

But at the time, former Prime Minister Ludovit Odor criticized the neighbors' border controls, advocating instead for a Europe-wide solution to the migration problem.

The four countries are all part of the EU's visa-free Schengen zone.

The Interior Ministry says Bratislava has registered this year, until October 1, almost 40,000 migrants. This is 11 times more than those registered a year ago.

rmt/jsi (AFP, AP)