Hungary today announced that a fence intended to stem the flow of migrants along its border with Serbia will be completed by December. The combined efforts of military personnel, the unemployed and prison inmates have already broken ground on the temporary solution to the country’s border crisis.
AP reports that speaking near the southern town of Morahalom, Defence Minister Csaba Hende announced 900 people will install the 13 foot high border fence along the 109-mile border, saying: “The Hungarian defence force is ready to complete this task.”
It was on the outskirts of that same town where military personnel began working on a 490-foot-long “sample section” reports the Daily Mail. Although the town’s mayor, Zoltan Nogradi, said he had not been told beforehand, he welcomed the move saying: “There has been no better idea to resolve this untenable situation.”
Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said the border fence would be built in sections, first targeting the eight to 10 areas “most exposed to the immigration pressure” along the Serbo-Hungarian border which form what the Guardian referred to as “a hidden frontline of Europe’s migration crisis“.
Interior Minister Sandor Pinter said Hungarian prison inmates are assembling basic elements of the border fence and that if needed unemployed workers could be called on for assistance. Pinter explained the fence is temporary, but provides the only immediate solution to stopping the flow of migrants reported to stand at 81,300 already in 2015.
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic described the fence construction as an “unfortunate decision”. It has already been criticised by other European leaders such as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and the United Nations Refugee Committee which said it would “place too many barriers” on the “inalienable human right” to seek asylum.
Opposition to the fence has also surfaced in Hungary itself. Euronews reports a protest in Budapest attended by hundreds was organised by Hungarian migrant solidarity group MigSzol. It has described the barrier as “evil and absurd”.
Speaking in the Budapest, Janos Lazar, head of the Hungarian prime minister’s office, spoke of other solutions the country is introducing. Temporary tent camps in rural areas will house asylum seekers replacing regular migrant housing which will now be closed. The government will also legislate to lift illegal border crossing from being a minor offence to a serious crime. He added:
“This is a clear message to human traffickers. It will be much more difficult, expensive and risky to head toward Hungary.”
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán says Hungary does not want any migrants from outside Europe, however in recent months some 80 per cent of the refugees requesting asylum in Hungary have come from the likes of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Most of them leave within days to cross the border on the way to richer European Union countries like Germany, but if properly assessed those states may send illegal migrants back to Hungary. In any case, migrants spoken to by the Guardian say the fence will fail. One, Mohamed Hussein, said:
“We are Syrians. We can solve anything. We made the first written language, so we can break the wall. If they use electricity, we will take gloves and cut it.”
The Hungarians, he concludes, are “not going to solve migration like this. They need to solve the real problem and get rid of Bashar al-Assad and Isis.”
Another, an Afghan surgeon fleeing the Taliban called Yama Nayab said: “In Afghanistan, life is not safe, and every human who wants a safe life will make a hole in that wall, or find another way.”