UN 'shocked' by Hungary’s treatment of refugees

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expresse shock and alarm for Hungary’s treatment of refugees

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A refugee rinses his eyes with water after Hungarian riot police fired tear gas and water cannon on the Serbian side of the border, Hungary on September 16, 2015

Updated Sep 18, 2015

The United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki moon on Wednesday said that he was “shocked” after Hungarian police used tear gas and water cannon to keep the refugees away from its border with Serbia.

"I was shocked to see how these refugees and refugees were treated, it's not acceptable," Ban said in a news conference.

"All the countries have their domestic problems, but since they are the people fleeing the wars and persecutions, then we must show our compassionate leadership."

Ban added his consistent message to European and Asian leaders saying that the refugees should be treated with dignity and in accordance with human rights.

On Wednesday, Hungarian police fired tear gas and water cannons on hundreds of refugees, to push them back at the border. Dozens of refugees were injured. Clashes erupted after refugees protested the closure of the border-crossing into Hungary. Many of them were trying to break through a razor-wire fence hoping to reach Germany.

Hungary reported 20 police officers were injured as refugees were trying to break through the fence adding that Hungary is standing behind its action. A Hungarian spokesman accused the refugees of using their children as “human shields” against police.

Amnesty International said on Wednesday that children were separated from their families by police.

Director of Crisis Response at Amnesty International, Tirana Hassan, reported from the scene, "the families are desperate to be reunited with their children. Not only have they experienced the traumatic journey to the border and the use of force by the police, they have now lost the security of being with their parents."

"My child was taken from me as I was holding his hand and we've been separated ever since," a father of an eight-year-old boy told Amnesty.

Amnesty said another man was searching for two children. These children were thought to have been brought to a nearby border control building.

Hungary closed its border with Sebia on Tuesday, implementing new and tougher laws to prevent the piling of refugees who aim at crossing the Hungarian borders and reach western Europe. Hungarian police detained 9,380 refugees and the country’s courts started fast-track trials for them.

In 2015, at least 190,000 refugees had entered Hungary from Serbia. They fled the war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa, attempting to arrive on of the European countries for a better life.

However, the refugees found themselves in clashes with Hungarian riot police at the border between Hungary and Serbia on Wednesday. There were war-like scenes near the Hungarian town of Horgos; wounded people, fires and ambulances arriving on the border.

A refugee, Amir Hassan, from Iraq said, "we fled wars and violence and did not expect such brutality and inhumane treatment in Europe."

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres called Hungarian authorities for ensuring the refugees who fled war and poverty “unipeded access”. 

"UNHCR was especially shocked and saddened to witness Syrian refugees, including families with children who have already suffered so much, being prevented from entering the EU with water cannon and tear gas," a statement said.

TRTWorld and agencies