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Hungary Expects Up to 500,000 Refugees to Arrive By Year-End

© REUTERS / Dado RuvicHungarian soldiers stand guard as migrants cross at the border near Roszke, Hungary September 12, 2015
Hungarian soldiers stand guard as migrants cross at the border near Roszke, Hungary September 12, 2015 - Sputnik International
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Peter Szijjarto, the Hungarian foreign minister, said that the total number of refugees may reach 400,000 or even 500,000 by the end of the year, if Hungary does not strengthen its borders.

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BUDAPEST (Sputnik) — The total number of refugees that are expected to arrive in Hungary by the end of 2015 could reach 400,000 – 500,000, the country’s foreign minister announced.

"By this time, 180,000 migrants have already arrived. This figure may reach 400,000 or even 500,000 by the end of the year, if Hungary does not strengthen its borders," Peter Szijjarto was quoted as saying by the HGV.hu news portal Saturday.

The EU member states, including Hungary, have been struggling with an unprecedented influx of refugees as tens of thousands try to enter the bloc, fleeing violence in their home countries.

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Hungary is being used as a gateway to wealthier EU countries by thousands of migrants. Budapest estimates that over 156,000 migrants have illegally entered the country since the beginning of 2015.

A new Hungarian law on border protection, which will come into force on September 15, introduces prison terms for illegally crossing the country's borders.

On September 22, the state’s parliament is also due to mull the dispatch of the army to the border to contain the EU-bound refugees. At present, only police units are charged with border protection, according to the Hungarian government.

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