01:41 GMT11 May 2021
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    Hungarian authorities who have repeatedly voiced concerns over the flood of migrants entering the country illegally can now rest a little easier: an enormous fence is now under construction, designed to keep outsiders out.

    Soldiers began construction on the fence on Monday, following a weekend in which nearly 4,500 undocumented migrants were caught entering Hungary without permission.

    The fence will be built in sections, with the first portions going up in areas used most heavily by human smugglers, which Hungarian authorities blame for the recent influx of migrants. These areas include the village of Asotthalom in the Southern Great Plain region of southern Hungary, where on Monday heavy machinery drove metal rods into the ground, initial steps in the construction of the nearly 4-meter (13-foot) wall.

    The Hungarian government, which was shown a 150-meter sample of the fence some 2 weeks ago, has high hopes the fence will be completed, spanning the entire 175-kilometer (109-mile) border with Serbia, by the end of the summer.

    In addition to soldiers and those in a state work program, Hungarian prisoners are taking part in the fence construction as well, preparing the razor wire that will be placed along the top of the barrier, the Associated Press reported.

    Since the beginning of 2015, the number of asylum seekers using the western Balkans to reach Hungary has skyrocketed to more than 100,000, more than twice as many as in 2014 (around 43,000), and more than five times as many as in 2013 (18,900).

    Prosecutors said Monday that law enforcement had detained five people, including three police officers, believed to be involved in migrant smuggling in the southern part of the country.

    Over the past few months, according to AP, around 80 percent of migrants entering Hungary have come from conflict zones like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, compared to earlier statistics that showed the majority of them arriving from Kosovo.

    Most migrants apply for asylum in Hungary, but attempt to move to European Union countries further west, where social benefits are believed to be the most generous in Europe.

    Ahmed Saad, a refugee from the Kurdish community in Iraq, traveled to Asotthalom with a group that walked across Turkey and Bulgaria to reach the EU.

    "We left all — my job, all my car, my house, all things, because we ran going to Germany," said Saad shortly after crossing into Hungary.

    Hungary has recently amended legislation on the classification of asylum seekers. The country now regards Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Greece as "safe" countries. Any asylum seeker crossing the country's border from a "safe" country will be classed as an "economic migrant," which allows authorities to more expediently return them to their place of origin.

    Related:

    Hungary Eyes Late August Deadline for Border Fence Construction
    Czech Police Detain Hungarian Truck With 80 Migrants
    Immigration Crisis Ripping Europe Apart
    Hungary’s Anti-Migrant Fence Part of EU Plan to Tighten Border Controls
    Tags:
    European Union, asylum seekers, refugee, border fence, migrant crisis, Europe, Serbia, Hungary
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