2016-05-11 09:45:00

Hungary imposes strict measures on refugees after border shooting

(Vatican Radio) Hungary's Parliament has adopted strict new measures towards asylum seekers and also approved a government referendum on whether to accept a European Union quota plan to distribute as many as 160.000 refugees among member states. The vote came amid rising tensions in the region after Slovak border guards shot at refugees near the Hungarian border.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report

Hungarian legislators approved tougher conditions for asylum seekers, including cutting allowed stays at reception centers from 60 days to maximum 30 days and gradually reducing their already meager social benefits and subsidies.

Human rights activists condemned the measures saying they are meant to discourage refugees from seeking asylum in Hungary and forcing them into increasingly worse and unpleasant situations.

Hungarian authorities have acknowledged that only 197 people were granted asylum or some other sort of international protection this year in the January-April period.


Hungary's parliament also endorsed a government-proposed referendum to be held later this year on the European Union's plan to resettle as many as 160,000 refugees within the 28-nation bloc.

The referendum question is: "Do you want the European Union to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary even without the consent of parliament?"

The vote came as a boost for Hungary's anti-migration Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

He says voting "no" in the referendum will be "in favor of Hungary's independence."

Orbán has condemned EU proposals to fine member states a quarter of a million euros for every migrant they refuse to take, as part of controversial quotas. "Those who should be our leaders in Brussels are sitting in an ivory tower, isolated from the world," Orbán told Hungarian radio. "They don’t know the reality, they don’t have a clue what they are talking about.

How can some draw up a proposal like this?”

He says the focus should be on protecting the EU's borderless Schengen zone and the running of refugee camps.


Orbán's comments come amid rising tensions in the region.

The United Nations refugee agency is urging authorities in neighboring Slovakia to investigate an incident in which a woman was shot Monday when border guards fired at a car carrying refugees.

A Budapest-based UNHCR regional spokesman confirmed that the 26-year-old Syrian woman is out of danger but still in intensive care.Slovak police reportedly wanted to stop four cars and opened fire when one driver tried to flee.

Slovakia's state-run television said 11 migrants and six smugglers had been detained and all would be expelled.

It was the worst known incident in the border area, but authorities are on edge saying at least 11.000 migrants entered Hungary this year alone despite fences an EU deal with Turkey to stem the flow of refugees into Europe.






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