herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Hungary closes its border to refugees

Hungarian police officers guard the border line between Serbia and Hungary in Roszke, southern Hungary Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.
Hungarian police officers guard the border line between Serbia and Hungary in Roszke, southern Hungary Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.
Hungarian police officers guard the border line between Serbia and Hungary in Roszke, southern Hungary Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.
Hungary

Hungary closed the main migrant crossing point from Serbia yesterday, moving ahead with a crackdown on record numbers streaming into the European Union.

Dozens of police officers in helmets took up position across a railway track that traverses the border and has been used for months by tens of thousands of migrants, many of them Syrian refugees, to enter the EU from Serbia.

Soldiers and mounted police were also present and a helicopter circled overhead. A freight container shrouded in razor wire was used to plug the track.

Hungarian police directed hundreds of migrants, including families with small children, to the official Horgos 2 border crossing around a kilometre away, but that too was blocked by a metal gate.

Arrest

The move came hours before new laws entered into force giving authorities the power to arrest and jail anyone caught trying to cross Hungary's southern border from Serbia illegally, and to hold or expel asylum seekers.

More than 190,000 migrants and refugees fleeing poverty and war in the Middle East, Africa and Asia have entered Hungary from Serbia this yea.

Meanwhile, more European Union countries have beefed up border controls as migrants at Hungary's crowded crossings with Austria and Serbia faced fear and uncertainty.

Austria, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Slovakia all rushed to join Germany in tightening controls

By 2pm yesterday, a record 7,437 migrants, many of them Syrian refugees, had been recorded entering from Serbia, which is outside the EU.

"We heard the Hungarians will close the border on September 15 so we had to hurry from Greece," said student Amer Abudalabi (24), from the Syrian capital of Damascus.

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