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Bottleneck of ‘misery’ for migrants at Hungary fence

A migrant family enters the Hungarian transit zone nearby the motorway border crossing of Röszke between Hungary and Serbia on April 1, 2016. Dozens of migrants arrive at the border every day, awaiting admittance into two caged-off Hungarian "transit zones" built into the fence, one at Roszke and another at Tompa 20 kilometres (12 miles) away.  / AFP PHOTO / Csaba SEGESVARI / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by PETER MURPHY


Röszke, Hungary / AFP

On the Serbian side of Hungary’s razor-topped border fence, the smell of burning rubbish hangs in the air, clothes hang on trees and the wait to get into the European Union goes on.
“We go to those trees over there,” said Amir, 17, one of a seven-strong Afghan family including two children and an exhausted elderly woman with a crutch, sitting on the ground in this squalid camp.
Dozens of migrants arrive every day hoping to be let into two caged-off Hungarian “transit zones” built into the fence, one here at Roszke and another at Tompa 20 kilometres (12 miles) away.
But the wait can take weeks—and in the meantime, there is little food and no electricity, medical care or toilets.
Once inside the transit zone, migrants are taken to container huts where they are interviewed by Hungarian officials and can apply for asylum. But depending on the case, the wait in here can again take days or even weeks before they are taken to open camps inside Hungary, from where many head onwards to Germany or Austria.
For those stuck waiting to get in, Hungarian authorities have provided a single tap and a simple daily food package, despite the Immigration Office telling AFP it is “not legally obliged to look after foreigners waiting to get into the transit zones”.
At Roszke, only around 30 of the 100 or so who try to enter are let into the transit zone each day. “Families get in, but single men have little chance —I just keep waiting,” one young Syrian lamented.
Last September, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing government sealed the entire 175-kilometre Serbian border with the fence.
Here at Roszke, police clashed with frustrated migrants a day after it went up.
More than 4,000 people had been entering Hungary per day at the time. But the closure diverted the mass flow of people trekking up from Greek beaches into Croatia, from where they crossed into EU member Slovenia. In March, the Balkan trail shut down completely as other nations closed their borders. Soon afterwards, the EU and Turkey signed a controversial deal aimed at cutting off the influx altogether.

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