Migrant pressure rises in Serbia as Hungary gets tough
HORGOSJul 11, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Jul 11, 2016 12:00 am
Exhausted but hopeful, hundreds of migrants defy summer heat in a makeshift camp on the Serbia-Hungary border, determined to reach the EU-member nation, despite tough new measures aimed at stopping them. A few meters from the metal fence topped with barbed wire which marks the border, dozens of tents, many cobbled together from blankets and branches, which offer the only shelter available to some 600 migrants and refugees from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. They wait near the Horgos-Roszke border post in hope of being let into Hungary's transit zone to seek asylum, but that has become more difficult since Budapest tightened its rules for asylum-seekers and decided to return all those caught within eight kilometers of the border.
"As a result of new legislative measures in Hungary, which took effect on July 5, the number of refugees and migrants on the Serbian side of the border has doubled over the last few days to above 1,300, the majority of them women and children," reported the U.N. team in Serbia in a statement Friday. Some 40 kilometers west, another makeshift camp at the Kelebija border crossing is home to several hundred more migrants, while some 300 have taken shelter in a state-run reception center in the nearby town of Subotica, double its capacity of 150. The U.N. has warned that the latest measures taken by Hungary – whose right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban has taken a tough line on Europe's recent migrant crisis – "will further aggravate the situation."
The U.N. said a total of only 30 asylum-seekers have been allowed to enter Hungary each day, while "hundreds more have had to wait for weeks out in the open in often desperate and inhumane conditions." Humanitarian organizations led by the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) deliver aid to migrants, but sanitation conditions in the Horgos camp are extremely poor as the camp has only a few toilets and no bathrooms. The only available water tap is mobbed by people trying to wash and do laundry. Some of those in the camp have already tried to sneak across the border – unsuccessfully. According to Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC), more than 17,000 irregular migrants have been apprehended by Hungarian authorities since the beginning of the year.