UN urges EU states not to send asylum-seekers back to Hungary

Published 10.04.2017 21:15
Updated 10.04.2017 21:18

The United Nations refugee agency called on European Union states on Monday not to send asylum seekers back to Hungary until that country makes its new law on mandatory detention of migrants conform with EU and international law.

UNHCR says Hungary's government has detained 110 people — including children — in "shipping containers surrounded by high razor fences at the border" while their asylum cases are reviewed.

Spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly said Monday's call by UNHCR for such suspensions within the EU is rare, and such an appeal was last made in 2012, also with regard to Hungary. Others in the past involved Bulgaria and Greece, in different instances.

"Since it came into force on 28 March, new asylum-seekers, including children, are detained in shipping containers surrounded by high razor fences at the border for the entire length of their asylum procedures," the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement.

"As of 7 April, there were 110 people, including four unaccompanied children and children with their families, held there," the statement said.

A complex EU rule known as the Dublin Regulation holds that asylum-seekers should have their cases processed in the first country of the bloc that they enter, and returned there if necessary.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called mass migration a threat to Europe's socioeconomic make-up and a "Trojan horse for terrorism" and Hungary has been a focal point for Europe's migration crisis since 2015.

The migrants' camps will be made out of scrapped shipping containers, an extremely cheap and innovative construction material. Hungary is also is building four small military bases along the fence to provide accommodations for some of the 3,000 soldiers on border duty along with police. The barracks are being built out of shipping containers as well and each base will have room for 150 people.

The country granted asylum or some form of protection to 425 people in 2016, while receiving 29,432 applications. Orban has also argued that allowing in so many Muslims risks undermining Europe's liberal democratic values and its Christian traditions, which are not being shared by the majorities of the new arrivals.

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