Thursday

18th Jul 2019

Hungarian police clash with refugees on Serb border

  • A Syrian refugee makes a dash for safety after entering Hungary from Serbia through a barbed wire fence, on the border near Roszke on 28 August (Photo: Freedom House)

Hungarian riot police on Wednesday (16 September) forced back hundreds of people seeking refuge at the Serb border after firing tear gas and water cannons.

The moves sparked scenes of chaos after people, many of them Syrian asylum seekers, tried to break through a razor-wire fence separating the two countries.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "shocked" at how the refugees and migrants were treated.

"It’s not acceptable", he said.

Amnesty International said that in the panic, Hungarian police had separated at least four children from their parents.

"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," said Tirana Hassan, crisis response director at Amnesty International.

Hungarian officials say 20 police officers were hurt in the clashes.

The violence comes on the back of tough new laws passed by Budapest earlier in the week after it sealed off its border with Serbia and declared a state of emergency. A record 9,300 people attempted to cross the border on Monday.

Hungarian authorities are rejecting within minutes asylum requests made at the Serb border. Refugees wanting to enter must now knock on a small door in the fence and ask for asylum, but are being told to apply in Serbia instead.

Serbia's prime minister, Aleksandar Vucic, described the Hungarian police crackdown as "brutal" and "non-European" and said the European Union must respond.

"We will not allow anyone to humiliate us. I call on the European Union to react, for its members to behave in line with European values", he said.

Hungary is now expanding its border fence to the Croatian and Romanian borders.

Christian identity

Some 340,000 people have landed in Greece since the start of the year. Many cross over into Macedonia, Serbia and onto Hungary and Austria in an effort to reach Germany.

On Wednesday, the Austrian rail operator OEBB suspended train services between Salzburg and Germany, stranding hundreds of asylum seekers at the train station. They have since set off on foot to Germany.

The vast majority taking the Western Balkan route is fleeing persecution and war from places like Syria and Afghanistan.

The Hungarian border closure means some are now opting to enter in through Croatia.

Croat prime minister Zoran Milanovic said on Wednesday that 150 have already crossed.

Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban told German daily Die Welt that the large influx of Muslims risks usurping Christian identity.

"I prefer to call it a competition between cultures. It is obvious that Christians are going to lose this contest, if you allow many Muslims into Europe", he said.

Orban has been a vocal critic of EU-level plans to distribute asylum seekers to other member states.

He says the scheme to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers would encourage others to make the journey to Europe.

But he told the paper that should the law pass, he would be obliged to follow and accept it.

The European parliament, for its part, is holding an emergency plenary session on Thursday (17 September) to endorse the plan.

"The current refugee crisis makes it absolutely necessary to act swiftly", said parliament president Martin Schulz.

Refugee crisis prompts snap EU summit

EU leaders are to hold emergency talks next Wednesday, amid EU border crackdowns and disagreements on how to share 120,000 refugees.

EU court: Denmark's family-reunification law 'unjustified'

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has delivered a blow to Denmark's strict family-reunification laws. The ruling will likely cause headaches for its new left-leaning government given its stance on immigration, and opens up 8,000 pending cases.

News in Brief

  1. Selmayr to leave EU commission post
  2. EU 'appeasement' of Iran like that of Nazis, Israel says
  3. Report: EU anti-trust chief to go after Amazon
  4. Report: France to back Kovesi for EU prosecutor
  5. Trump energy leases to dump more CO2 than whole EU
  6. EU selling more goods to US despite Trump tariffs
  7. EU deplores latest Israeli demolitions
  8. EU draws up Venezuela torture sanctions

EU guilty of Libya migrant 'tragedy', ICC lawsuit says

EU states' efforts to "deter" migrants from Libya have helped kill more than 14,000 people and exposed 40,000 others to "crimes against humanity", according to a lawsuit filed in The Hague on Monday.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory
  2. Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts
  3. EU proposes yearly rule of law 'reports'
  4. Poland 'optimistic' despite new EU law checks
  5. What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?
  6. Is Golden Dawn's MEP head of a criminal organisation?
  7. Finland rejects call to end sponsorship of EU presidency
  8. MH17 five years on: when will Russia be punished?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us