This year has seen a big rise in the number of border violators caught by the authorities, with an increasing number of Afghan citizens among them and intensifying activity on the part of human smugglers, György Bakondi, the prime minister’s domestic security chief, told a press conference at the Röszke border station, in southern Hungary, on Wednesday.
By mid-September this year 73,617 arrests were made as against 21,992 in the same period last year, he said, adding that 719 human smugglers have been prosecuted this year, up from 274 last year.
Zoltán Kovács, state secretary for international communications and relations, noted that six years ago hundreds of migrants attempted to break through the border while hurling rocks at police.
Because attempts were being made in the European Union to continue managing migration instead of stopping it, he added, external pressure on borders was now as great as it had been then.
Bakondi said politicians all over Europe were saying the events of 2015 must not be repeated.
He added that Hungary’s position was clear: the border must be protected, migration must be stopped, and nation states were responsible for asylum processes. Further, troubles must be dealt with at the location they arise, he said.
He said the decision to build fences on the Hungary-Serbia and Hungary-Croatia borders had been important, and he noted Hungary’s declaration of Serbia as a safe third country, the establishment of transit zones, its declaration of a crisis caused by mass immigration, and its decision to send a large police and military force to the border.
Thanks to these measures, the number of border violators steadily decreased until 2018, he said, noting that over the span of six years since 2015, more than 591,000 border violators and 3,027 human smugglers have been caught, 211,000 refugee applications processed, with 2,837 refugees receiving international protection.
Also, 67 tunnels under the border were discovered, though 32 were only partially completed, he said. Ten cases of violence were recorded at the border as migrants typically threw rocks at police officers and soldiers, while equipment was also damaged, he added.
Kovács said migration was high on the agenda of a recent joint Hungarian-Serbian government session, and it will figure among the topics to be discussed at a meeting of the ruling Fidesz parliamentary group later today.
Featured photo by Szabolcs Vadnai/PM’s Cabinet Office