August 25, 2015 / 9:29 AM / 2 years ago

Hungary wants more, less humiliating, EU funds to cope with migrants

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary wants more European Union funds to cope with the worst refugee crisis since World War Two, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Hungarian police check Syrian immigrants after they crossed the Hungarian-Serbian border near Roszke, Hungary August 25, 2015. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

He said what was currently doled out was done in a humiliating way.

Hungary is part of the European Union’s Schengen zone of passport-free travel and borders non-EU Serbia and Ukraine making it attractive to migrants. It has registered over 100,000 migrants so far this year, compared with 43,000 in all 2014.

On Monday alone, police registered 2,093 migrants, the highest daily tally so far this year. Hungary is building a fence on its southern border with Serbia to fend off the rising tide of migrants.

The European Commission has pledged nearly 8 million euros in aid and various other measures for Hungary. However, Janos Lazar, Orban’s chief of staff, told the daily Magyar Hirlap newspaper that more was needed.

“The European Union distributes border protection funds in a humiliating way. Old member states have nicked the money from new members,” Lazar was quoted as saying in an interview.

Most migrants are from poor or conflict-ridden countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq and look to move on to wealthier western and northern EU countries.

Lazar’s remarks came a day after Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker criticized bickering EU governments for “finger pointing” instead of confronting the migrant crisis with viable measures.

In the meantime, to the distress of the European Commission, Hungary is pulling up a line of barbed wire along the frontier with Serbia and aims to complete the 3.5-meter-high fence by November. It has also promised to deploy thousands of police to the border and plans to tighten the penalties for illegal migration and trafficking.

“If we do not take meaningful steps, we will become a rescue boat that sinks beneath the weight of those clinging onto it,” Lazar said in what appeared to be a reference to the deaths of hundreds of migrants trying to reach Europe on overcrowded boats through the Mediterranean.

Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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