Hungary taking migrants straight to Austria border: UN

14th September 2015, Comments 0 comments

Hungary has effectively stopped registering thousands of migrants crossing the border from Serbia and is transporting them straight to the Austrian frontier, the UN refugee agency said Monday.

Rights group Migration Aid said meanwhile that about 8,000 people were transported from the Hungarian village of Roszke near the Serbian border in the early hours of Monday morning, in an apparent attempt to empty Hungary of migrants.

"Our information is that special trains are taking migrants from Roszke (train) station direct without stopping to the Austrian border," Erno Simon, a Hungary spokesman for the UNHCR Regional Representation for Central Europe, told AFP.

He said this was "approximately a four-hour journey. Yesterday (Sunday) three such trains left carrying at least 2,000 people. During the night our colleagues saw police waking people up at the border collection point."

Migration Aid spokeswoman Zsuzsanna Zsohar said on Monday that the 8,000 people were taken from two camps and a collection point at Roszke by train or bus, probably to the Austrian border or other camps near the Hungarian border.

"It began around 3:00 am (0100 GMT) and by midday the only people in the collection point were the newcomers, coming in groups of 10 people," Zsohar said.

Prime Minister Viktor "Orban's plan is going well, Hungary is now almost empty of migrants, all the camps are almost empty, everyone is going to the border from the camps, there are maybe a few thousand left in the entire country," she said.

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EU member Hungary is on the front line of Europe's migrant crisis, with almost 200,000 people travelling up from Greece through the western Balkans and entering the country this year.

On Sunday, police said a record 5,809 people entering Hungary, smashing the previous day's record of 4,330, and despite rolls of razorwire being placed all along the Serbian border.

By around midday (1000 GMT) on Monday, another 5,353 people had been intercepted, police said.

The sharp increase came ahead of harsh new Hungarian laws coming into force Tuesday under which people entering the EU country illegally can be jailed for up to three years.

Later on Monday Hungary also intends to close off a gap in the razor-wire barrier -- where this is a train line -- where large numbers of migrants pass through.

In addition to the new laws, Hungary is also building a controversial four-metre high (13-feet) fence all along its 175-kilometre (110-mile) border with Serbia that it intends to complete by the end of October or early November.

A government spokesman said Monday that Hungary is "fulfilling all its international and European obligations, including registration."

The spokesman added that "at the same time we are trying to ease the pressure on Roszke, therefore the protocol is being followed at those locations... where we provide shelter for migrants."

The migrants, mostly Syrians, Afghans and Pakistanis, seek to travel onwards to Austria and then western Europe, particularly Germany and Sweden.

On Sunday, however, Germany reimposed border controls. Austria and Slovakia said Monday that they will follow suit, with Vienna planning to deploy around 2,200 military personnel.

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leiter said in Brussels that there were currently around 18,000 migrants in Austria.

There were also traffic jams in Austria near the German border, including one 20 kilometres (12 miles) long.


© 2015 AFP

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