Hungary made final preparations to shut its border with Serbia on Monday as throngs of desperate migrants from war-torn Syria and beyond rushed to make it through a single crossing before midnight.
It was chaos at the Horgos II border post, where Hungarian police allowed only a few migrants at a time through a small gate, a line of hopefuls snaking down the road into Serbia.
The situation confused many of the migrants, who expected that the tighter restrictions would begin Tuesday. Many of them had walked a mile from a popular railroad crossing near the village of Roszke after it was locked down by Hungarian riot police.
The Horgos II crossing is the only remaining opening in a newly constructed border fence by which Hungary hopes to stem the flood of migrants and refugees. Police are on orders to arrest and jail anyone caught sneaking over its border with Serbia starting Tuesday.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban invoked his country’s right to defend its “our culture, our way of life and our sovereignty.”
“Hungary is a country with a 1000-year-old Christian culture. We Hungarians don’t want the global-sized movement of people to change Hungary,” Orban said in remarks to police bound for the border.
Serbia is not in the European Union — but Hungary is, which is why thousands of migrants and refugees have used it as a path to the more prosperous countries of northern and western Europe. Many more are still on their way, moving through the Balkans by train, bus and taxi in an attempt to beat the border crackdown.
More than 190,000 migrants and refugees fleeing poverty and war in the Middle East, Africa and Asia have been recorded entering Hungary from Serbia this year, many of them having crossed the water from Turkey to Greece, police say.
Hungary appears to be sending the current wave of migrants onto trains directly to the Austrian border, a Reuters photographer reported.
Austria followed Germany Monday in re-imposing Europe’s internal border controls, effectively suspending a two-decade old policy allowing border-free travel across the continent.
The 28 countries of the European Union are debating how to handle the crisis: how many migrants and refugees to accept, and how to help them resettle.
Morgan Johansson, Sweden’s justice and migration minister, said he hoped the EU could agree on a plan to “redistribute” 120,000 refugees who’ve ended up in Italy, Greece and Hungary, “because …Read More