Hungary to arm new 'border hunters' after six-month crash course

Thu Mar 9, 2017 11:40am EST
 
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By Krisztina Than

BARCS, Hungary (Reuters) - Sandor Jankovics is proud to be joining Hungary's new "border hunter" force after a six-month crash course to help police and army units keep out migrants, part of a security clamp down that has raised human rights concerns.

Hungary's southern border with Serbia and Croatia marks the external edge of the European Union's Schengen zone of passport-free travel. Hundreds of thousands of migrants have entered Hungary via its southern frontier since 2015, though most have moved on westward to more prosperous parts of the EU.

The migrant flow has ebbed greatly since Hungary erected a fence along the southern boundary and the EU struck a deal with Turkey 18 months ago that curbed migration from that country into neighboring Europe.

But nationalist Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who on Tuesday described mainly Muslim migrants as a "Trojan horse for terrorism", has cited the risk of a new influx from the Balkans and is beefing up his country's defense.

This week Hungary also passed a law to detain migrants in camps along its border, a step the United Nations said violates EU humanitarian law and will have a "terrible physical and psychological impact" on asylum seekers.

Jankovic, 26, who quit his job as a laborer in nearby Austria last year, will start "border hunter" duty along with almost 1,000 other volunteers within three months.

He is one of dozens undergoing fast-track training at Barcs, a border crossing with fellow EU country Croatia.

Barcs witnessed the apex of the migration crisis in September 2015 when many thousands fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East flooded into Hungary after having passed through Croatia from Serbia.   Continued...

 
Attila Piros, police chief of Somogy county, teaches border hunter recruits during a training at the border crossing point in Barcs, Hungary March 8, 2017. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh