Hungary’s government has decided to extend by six months a state of emergency, covering the whole country, in response to the dangers presented by mass migration, the government office chief said on Thursday.
János Lázár told a weekly press briefing that the state of emergency would be maintained until Sept. 7. The reason to keep it in place is that 800,000 people stuck in the Balkans are unable to return to Turkey, he added. The measure also includes restoring immigration detention as well as strengthening the border with a second fence to be completed along the 150km Hungarian-Serbian section by May 1, Lázár said.
Altogether 700 prisoners will contribute towards the construction, he said. Lázár noted that the government had set aside 38 billion forints (EUR 123m) for the purpose last week, bringing the total cost of the fence along the southern border to 284 billion forints. Noting a regulation passed by the European Commission on Feb. 16 requiring blanket checks at EU external borders, EU citizens included, Lázár said waiting times were bound to increase but the government would uphold the new rule to the point that “no disproportionate harm comes to society”.
UPDATE: Reuters has reported that Hungary’s new border fence – also referred as “smartfence” – is capable of delivering electric shocks to unwanted migrants and armed with heat sensors, cameras, and loudspeakers that blare in in English, Arabic and Farsi:
Attention, attention. I’m warning you that you are at the Hungarian border. If you damage the fence, cross illegally, or attempt to cross, it’s counted to be a crime in Hungary. I’m warning you to hold back from committing this crime. You can submit your asylum application at the transit zone.
via hungarymatters.hu and kormany.hu; cover photo: Sándor Ujvari – MTI