Hungary to house asylum seekers in shipping containers

TMP – 18/04/2017

Hungary is set to begin housing all migrants and asylum seekers arriving to the country in border camps made of shipping containers.

According to a law which came into effect on 28 March, all migrants will be detained near the border with Serbia. Asylum seekers arriving at the border, including children over 14 years old, will be held in the converted shipping containers while their applications are processed and will have no right to appeal against their detention.

A statement issued by the country’s interior ministry explained the new measures. It read: “The purpose of the restrictions is to prevent migrants with an unclear status from moving freely around the territory of the country and the European Union, and to thereby reduce the security risk of migration.

“…Any illegal immigrants apprehended in the interior of the country will also be accompanied back to the border,” the statement continued.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbaninsists that asylum seekers are not being detained indefinitely since they can choose to leave for Serbia at any time.

The tough law has been condemned by human rights groups and the United Nations, but the government defends the move on security grounds. The European Commission plans to investigate and monitorthe detention centres to make sure facilities and management are in line with EU standards.

Lydia Gall, a researcher with Human Rights Watch said, “It’s the latest of Hungary’s abusive laws and policies designed to make it difficult to seek asylum there, and unpleasant or downright dangerous for those who do,” said

Hungary has faced criticism for its tough handling of refugees since 2015, but Orban says his country is setting a good example for Europe on how to handle migrants.

Hungary accepted just 34 out of 1,745 asylum applications in the first two months of 2017. About 7,000 asylum seekers remain stuck in neighbouring Serbia and only about a dozen are allowed into Hungary each day.