Hungary to Build Second Border Fence

Cheryl Sanders
February 27, 2017

"You have to reinforce your borders, establish the rules that only legal migrants can enter the European Union, otherwise it's not going to work", Orban's spokesman Zoltan Kovacs told reporters in early February.

Hungary already has a barbed wire fence along its border, which has effectively curbed the flow of migrants from active war zones through its country. Budapest said a second fence would make the barrier stronger and hold back migrants while their asylum applications are reviewed. A 10km stretch of the wall has already been built with cameras, motion sensors and other surveillance equipment.

"Although the EU-Turkey agreement is prevailing and the Western Balkan route is closed, we expect the migration pressure to appear at any moment at our southern borders", Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after meeting his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu. "For this reason, we are strengthening the defense of our southern border".

Orban's right-wing government hopes that when fully built the fence will cut the numbers of troops and police officers required to patrol Hungary's border with Serbia. Human Rights Watch Deputy Director Benjamin Ward said.

The relatively few refugees and migrants who still reach the Serbia-Hungary border - usually by paying people smugglers - now camp by the fence before being admitted to a "transit zone" for initial assessment of their asylum requests.

Human rights advocates have been strongly critical of Hungary's migration policies, including the fence and measures that would lock asylum-seekers in border camps made of shipping containers while their cases are decided.

Amnesty International described the government's plan as "a new low in Hungary's race to the bottom on asylum seekers and refugees" and said it clearly showed "that the EU needs to stand firm on Hungary's flagrant disregard for European and international law". Mr Orban says the mostly Muslim refugees from countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan threaten the security and culture of Hungary and Europe.

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