Hungary, Austria train Serbian border police

Hungarian and Austrian police to help patrol Serbia-Macedonia border to stem flow of migrants

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Hungarian and Austrian police forces will deploy mobile patrols next week along the border between Serbia and Macedonia, the Beta agency has reported.

The coordinated work came after Hungary’s decision to build a four-metre high, 175 kilometre-long fence to stem the flow of illegal migrants from Serbia.

"On the border between Serbia and Macedonia, as soon as on Monday, along with the Serbian police there will be 20 colleagues from Hungary with four vehicles with the latest thermal imaging cameras," Milorad Veljovic, the director of the Serbian police, said after the meeting with his Hungarian counterpart Karoly Papp.

Vujovic stressed that about 1,000 migrants wish to enter the territory of Serbia across the country's borders with Macedonia and Bulgaria everyday, with plans to continue through Hungary to other EU countries, adding, "This is an extremely serious problem, and as soon as on Monday our teams will work together in this area with colleagues from Austria, and probably also from Germany."

Veljovic also pointed out the importance of cooperation between the two police forces in the establishment of teams to combat gang crime.

Aleksandar Vulin, the Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy, said, "We are being stormed and we cannot cope with it alone," adding that Serbia lacked the money, medicine, food and technical assistance needed to deal with tens of thousands of migrants entering the country, mostly from the Middle East and Africa.

Meanwhile, Karoly Papp, the director of the Hungarian police said that 20 officers and four mobile thermal cameras would be deployed from next week on Serbia's southern border with Macedonia.

Papp also noted that 48,000 refugees and migrants that have sought asylum in Hungary during the first five months of the year.

“This is a necessary step, we need to stop the flood,” government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs told the Guardian by phone from Budapest. 

Kovacs argues that a fence is a legitimate response to a huge spike in migration that has this year turned Hungary into a hidden frontline of Europe’s migration crisis.

According to Patrick Kingsley from the Guardian, rights groups see the move as the obvious conclusion of a wave of government-led xenophobia in which Kovacs’ colleagues have recently conflated immigrants with extremists, announcing a national consultation on the twin themes of migration and terrorism, and floating the idea of placing all migrants in what would be some of Europe’s first internment camps since the World War II.

Kovacs also told  the Guardian that Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi migrants entering from Greece through the Balkan land route had quietly made Hungary “the most affected EU country in absolute terms.” 

“Over 50,000 have entered Hungary illegally since January. Italy and Greece are lagging behind by a couple of 2,000.”

The migrants have claimed that while travelling they were shot at by Iranian border guards, and that one of them had been beaten and robbed by local police in Bulgaria.

Hungary has received about 50,000 asylum requests so far this year, compared to 43,000 in 2014 and 2,157 in 2012.

Mohamed Hussein, a Syrian refugee waiting in Serbia to get to into Hungary, said Hungary is “not going to the solve migration like this. They need to solve the real problem and get rid of Bashar al-Assad and Isis,” the Guardian reported.

TRTWorld and agencies