The United Nations has strongly criticised Hungary for showing a “very clear intention” to halt illegal immigration, blasting the nation’s border wall for giving an unwelcoming impression to would-be asylum seekers.
“My fundamental impression is that there is a very clear intention here to limit severely the number of people that are allowed to come to Hungary to seek protection,” UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said Tuesday, whilst visiting a transit zone for asylum seekers at the Hungary-Serbia border.
“When I was standing at the border fence today, I felt the entire system is designed to keep people, many of whom are fleeing war and persecution, out of the country,” he added.
Grandi said he understood the “complicated position” Hungary faces geographically, in that it lies “between the Balkans and Austria and Germany and countries that attract many asylum-seekers”.
But the UN figure said “robust” features like razor wire protecting the fences — erected in 2015 in response to an unprecedented influx of 400,000 migrants from the third world storming into Europe through Hungary — “convey an impression of rejection which I believe should be changed”.
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“Seeking asylum is not a crime,” he said. “The refugees I met are simply in search of safety in Europe and now find themselves extremely anxious about their future.”
Asserting that “refugee protection and security of the country are not incompatible”, Grandi emphasised the “importance of European solidarity” and every EU member state taking part in the programme to relocate asylum seekers from Greece and Italy.
Some countries in Central Europe have refused to take part in the scheme, and Hungary’s foreign minister Péter Szijjártó has branded EU demands that unwilling nations be forced to welcome third world migrants ‘political rape’.
Earlier this week the spokesman for the Hungarian government blasted calls from Brussels for “solidarity” on migrant redistribution, declaring on the government’s website: “The distorted narrative that is spun from Brussels attempts to convince European citizens that somehow European solidarity should be connected to accepting migrants, many of whom have crossed illegally into the territory of the EU.”
True solidarity, argued Zoltán Kovács, was “Hungary spending 270 billion forints (EUR 883.2 million) from its own budget on the protection of the external borders of the European Union with physical barriers and trained manpower”.