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Migrant crisis

More than 2,000 migrants cross Serbia-Hungary border

Despite government efforts to quickly build a 4-meter high fence on the Serbian border to stop them.

SOURCES Deutsche Welle, Agencies AUTHOR Evangelical Focus Subotica (Hungary) 25 AUGUST 2015 17:00 h GMT+1
Soldiers at the fence / DW

A total of 2,093 refugees entered Hungary this Monday, the highest daily tally so far this year, a statement said. Over the past week, the daily average was of 1,493 migrants.

Hungarian soldiers started building the fence along the country's border with Serbia on August 3 and should finish this job by August 31.

Still under construction, parts of it are already laced across fields and river banks or trace old railway tracks, and it will be as tall as 4 meters in some places, a patchwork intended to send a clear message that the migrants should not expect to move freely.

More than 100,000 migrants, mostly from the war zones of Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, arrived in Hungary this year via the Balkans.

Almost all of them applied for asylum in Hungary, but are trying to reach richer EU countries like Germany, Sweden, and Britain.

Hungary wants more European Union funds to cope with the worst refugee crisis since World War Two, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Building the four-meter-high fence is the government in Budapest´s top priority. The posts have already been driven in, and now they need to raise and attach the wire mesh. The men in camouflage are trying to tension the wire without leaving any weak points.


A total of 2,093 refugees entered Hungary this Monday

"The migrants cross the border along its entire length”, one soldier said. That's why the "Hungarian wall" is being built in a hurry to be ready by the end of the month. Razor wire, in coils around a meter high, is already in place and is very sharp.



Milad is on the run with his parents. They will pay a total of about 4,500 euros to be smuggled to Germany - if they are lucky. For migrants who do not have so much money, there are also cheaper deals: For 50 or 100 euros, they can be led to weak points along the border and left to fend for themselves.

Not only do human traffickers take advantage of the migrants' woes, but so do Serbian police. They are already known for their readiness to turn a blind eye to offenses such as drunk driving for a 20-euro bribe.



Every day for the past four years - since the Arab Spring began - Tibor Varga, a Protestant pastor, has brought refugees bread, eggs and toiletries.

"These people are emotionally shaken, because no one is interested in their problems," said Varga, who works with an Eastern European charity. "Sometimes a handshake, a broad smile and a soft voice help more than thousands of euros."

He can't understand how conservative politicians can warn of a "security risk" posed by the wave of migrants throughout Europe. "Even if I know for sure that one is a terrorist - what should I do if he is hungry and thirsty? I have already met thousands of people. So far no one has killed me."

Varga likes to tell Bible stories, like that of the Good Samaritan. When it comes to the EU's reluctance to receive migrants, he says: "It's a bit like in the middle Ages: The King has a castle, and the poor live around him. In dangerous times, they also want to come in, and the king must make a decision. And that's a moral issue."

The pastor confirms that the Hungarian fence is worrying the refugees. But he says they are not afraid of a bit of wire. "Looking at the other fences around the world, you can say that these people are very determined to get through it. They have already been confronted with major problems in their lives."


The fence will be 4 meters tall


The European Commission has pledged nearly 8 million euros in aid and various other measures for Hungary. However, Janos Lazar, Orban's chief of staff, told the daily Magyar Hirlap newspaper that more was needed.

"The European Union distributes border protection funds in a humiliating way. Old member states have nicked the money from new members," Lazar was quoted as saying in an interview.

Lazar's remarks came a day after Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker criticised bickering EU governments for "finger pointing" instead of confronting the migrant crisis with viable measures.

In the meantime, to the distress of the European Commission, Hungary has also promised to deploy thousands of police to the border and plans to tighten the penalties for illegal migration and trafficking.

"If we do not take meaningful steps, we will become a rescue boat that sinks beneath the weight of those clinging onto it," Lazar said in what appeared to be a reference to the deaths of hundreds of migrants trying to reach Europe on overcrowded boats through the Mediterranean.




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