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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife reporting from Ásotthalom
ÁSOTTHALOM, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– More than 60,000 refugees arrived in Hungary this year, mostly through the unprotected border with Serbia. Overwhelmed by the mass influx of migrants, Hungarian authorities said they want to install a four-meter fence along this stretch of border to keep the migrants out. A recent poll indicates most Hungarians support the fence.
Hungary is member of the European Union but part of the visa-free Schengen zone. After 114,000 migrants fleeing war or poverty were saved from the Mediterranean, with thousands dying there, many refugees now cross into the EU through the alternative Balkan route.
A BosNewsLife reporter met up with a group of visibly tired migrants, crossing into Hungary. They entered from neighbouring Serbia, through forests and farmlands. Most migrants want to move on to wealthier Western countries.
Hungarian authorities set up a temporary camp near the border, where migrants can take refuge. At least hundreds arrive here every day. Some residents provide food and water. “Where (are) you from?” ranger Zoltán Sáringer asked the migrants. (Story continues below. Footage BosNewsLife TV)
“From Bangladesh,” said the group of thin young men, sitting beside the road. Among them was 22-year-old Mohamed Nor, who studied hotel management. He said he left Bangladesh to seek a better future for himself and his family.
“Some go to Italy, some go to France, because they have family there,” Nor told Vatican Radio. “We need to work, to make money and provide for the families.”
Nor said he arrived in Hungary walking partly through the often dangerous Balkan route, including Greece, Macedonia and Serbia.
In the nearby town of Ásotthalom, migrants roamed the streets, including an elderly Afghani woman in a wheelchair and other young women carrying infants and children.
Speaking at another point along the unprotected border Ásotthalom’s mayor, László Toroczkai, said he supports efforts by the government to build a four-meter (13 foot) high fence along Hungary’s 175-kilometer (108 miles) border with Serbia.
“As you can see nothing protects the Schengen border of Europe,” he said, pointing to the open fields. “That’s why we desperately need this fence.”
Yet, critics complain that the fence will do little to stem the flow of migrants to Hungary and the rest of Europe.
(BosNewsLife’s NEW EUROPE is a regular look at key news developments in the former Communist nations impacting the Church and/or compassionate professionals).