Hungary Enforces Tougher Border Laws to Stem Refugee Influx

Hungary Migrants Refugees Europe EU
Migrants wait to enter Hungary, after the Hungarian police sealed the border with Serbia, near the village of Horgos, Serbia, September 14. Reuters/Marko Djurica

Hungary has introduced tougher immigration rules and tightened its border with Serbia to stop the flow of refugees entering the country. According to the new rules, refugees will face deportation or prison sentences if they cross into Hungarian territory illegally.

The former Soviet nation has been at the frontier of the refugee crisis, taking in nearly 200,000 people this year as many flee their lives in the Middle East and Africa to make the journey to Greece, where they travel through the Balkans to reach Hungary.

A Hungarian government spokesman confirmed that the country will reject any asylum seekers who have not previously sought refuge in Serbia before, reported Al Jazeera.

Hungarian police reportedly prevented 9,380 people from entering the country from Serbia on Monday. The police also announced that a record number of 5,809 refugees entered the country on Sunday, beating the previous day's record of 4,330.

Ministers failed to reach an agreement at an emergency EU summit held in Brussels yesterday to discuss the relocation of 120,000 asylum seekers saw. The summit came after Germany temporarily re-imposed border controls on Sunday to stem the flow of hundreds of thousands of refugees into the country. German authorities have now restarted passport checks at its borders.

Hungary has received strong criticism from its European partners for its handling of the refugee crisis and a number of incidents related to the authorities' treatment of refugees.

The government is building a razor-wire fence on its border with Serbia, due to be completed in October, to prevent refugees crossing into the country. The fence will be 3.5 meters tall and stretch across the entire 108 mile shared-border. Hungarian police have also prevented hundreds of migrants from boarding trains at Budapest's international train station and authorities have been accused of treating refugees in a camp like "animals" after footage of them being thrown food in a pen was aired.

The Hungarian military began training exercises last week to prepare for a future deployment to the country's borders to help guard against the entrance of refugees.

The country has staunchly opposed the EU's proposal for a mandatory quota of refugees to share the burden across the economic bloc.

"What happened is the consequence of the failed migration policy of the European Union and the irresponsible statements made by European politician," Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said earlier this month ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.