Hungary Doubles Military Border Patrols Amidst Rising Migration Wave

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban (C) and Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov (R) tour the area where a fence was erected on the Bulgaria-Turkey border near the town of Lesovo, on September 14, 2016. / AFP / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV (Photo credit should read NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP via Getty Images)
NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP via Getty Images

The government of Hungary is set to double military patrols along its borders amidst growing pressure from migrants attempting to enter the country illegally.

Hungarian State Secretary at the Defence Ministry, Szilard Nemeth, said that the number of migrants illegally crossing into Hungary has increased by nearly ten times over the past year, reaching 3,299, adding that the government expects that number to grow in the coming months.

Nemeth said that “in light of increasing migration pressure” the military would double the number of military personnel patrolling the border, according to the Hungary Journal.

Soldiers patrolling the border in Hungary will increase from 50 to 100, bringing the total force stationed at the border to 500.

Gabor Borondi, deputy commander of the Hungarian army, said that the increased numbers of soldiers will remain at the border for “as long as necessary”.

Speaking in December, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that the European Union’s migration policies have been a “serious mistake”.

“Immigration is a key issue for Europe. Not only today, this year or the next but for decades. It defines European politics and relations between European countries. In the Western countries to which they have been admitted, the Muslim population is growing year by year, and the Christian population is declining,” Orbán said.

Hungary was on the main route for migrants travelling from the Middle East to richer, northern European countries during the 2015 migrant crisis. Under the leadership of Viktor Orbán, Hungary has seen a drastic reduction of illegal migration after the construction of a border fence. Migration fell from the high of 391,000 in 2015 to 1,184 in 2017, representing a 99 per cent decrease.

“The system of technical barriers is the key to the success of border security, and without it, it would be impossible to stop the mass arrival of immigrants,” said Viktor Orbán’s Chief Security Advisor, György Bakondi, said in 2017.

The border fence was constructed over a period of weeks along the Balkan front during the height of the European migrant crisis by the Hungarian military, alongside unemployed citizens and prisoners brought in as labourers.

The success of the border fence has been hailed by conservatives, who touted the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of using walls to protect national borders.

At a meeting in the White House in May of last year, President Donald Trump praised Mr Orbán’s success in reducing immigration, quipping that the Hungarian leader could be his “twin”.

“Viktor Orbán has done a tremendous job in so many different ways. He’s highly respected, respected all over Europe,” Trump said.

“Probably like me a little bit controversial, but that’s OK. That’s OK. You’ve done a good job. And you’ve kept your country safe,” he concluded.

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