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10 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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Migrants lose in futile game on Hungary-Serbia frontier

AFP, Subotica
Migrants lose in futile game on Hungary-Serbia frontier
This file photo shows a group of refugees walking on the railway tracks after crossing from Serbia in Roszke, Hungary. AP Photo

Asurma Arab and her family spent more than two years waiting in Serbia for their chance to cross the steel fence that Hungary erected along its border to keep out migrants.

Little did the Afghan family know, their asylum plea was already a lost cause.

Under amendments passed in 2018, Hungary has been automatically rejecting applications of those who have passed through a “safe transit country”, in this case Serbia, in what rights groups say has turned the asylum process into a cruel charade.

“They did not ask what problems brought us there, they only asked us how we had come,” the 36-year-old mother, trembling with tears, said from the migrant camp in Serbia where her family is regrouping. After their long wait, their experience of Hungary was bleak and brief.

They were shut into a transit camp made of blue shipping containers and surrounded by a razor-wire fence, just next to the border barrier. Four months later, their application was rejected and they were kicked back to Serbia in the middle of the night.

“They brought us to the other side of the fence and left us in the forest,” Asurma said.

During the 2015 migrant crisis, the border etched across northern Serbia’s fertile flatlands became a vital crossing point into the European Union for migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

But Hungary slowed their march by building the 175-kilometre (110-mile) border fence four years ago, fortifying the EU’s edge.

Since then, Budapest has continued to pass laws hostile to migrants, alarming EU officials who have struggled to rein in right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his anti-immigration crusade.

The “safe transit country” idea is a “novel concept that has been introduced by Hungarian officials” over the last year, said John Young from the UNHCR mission in Serbia.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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