Hungary's parliament has approved tougher conditions for asylum seekers, including cutting allowed stays at reception centers from 60 days to 30 days and gradually reducing their social benefits and subsidies.
Human rights groups say the changes authorized Tuesday afternoon by lawmakers are meant to discourage refugees from seeking asylum in Hungary. Julia Ivan, a lawyer with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, says Hungary is "forcing refugees into increasingly worse and unpleasant situations."
According to the Office of Immigration and Nationality, 197 people were granted asylum or some other sort of international protection in January-April. Some earlier proposals which, for example, would have given those in asylum detention centers as much space as inmates in prison, weren't included in the current modifications.
Hungary's parliament has endorsed a government-proposed referendum on the European Union's plan to resettle refugees within the bloc according to a quota system.
The resolution, which can be appealed at the Constitutional Court, was approved 136-5 with support from lawmakers of the governing Fidesz party, its Christian Democratic coalition partners and the far-right Jobbik party. The referendum — valid if turnout is above 50 percent — is expected to held by October and cost up to 5 billion forints ($18 million).
The referendum question is: "Do you want the European Union to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary even without the consent of parliament?" Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who rejects taking in migrants, says voting "no" in the referendum will be "in favor of Hungary's independence."
UN body calls for probe of migrant shooting
The United Nations refugee agency is urging authorities in Slovakia to investigate an incident in which a woman was shot when border guards fired at a car carrying migrants.
Budapest-based UNHCR regional spokesman Babar Baloch said that an inquiry is needed to "ensure accountability," adding that the 26-year-old Syrian woman is out of danger but still in intensive care.
In Monday's incident, Slovak police wanted to stop suspicious four cars and opened fire when one driver tried to flee.
Slovak state television reported that 11 migrants and six smugglers had been detained and all would be expelled.
Baloch said Tuesday that countries' border management had to be consistent with obligations to protect asylum-seekers and that more "legal pathways" were needed in Europe so refugees can avoid smugglers.
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