BUDAPEST, Hungary, Sept. 10 (UPI) — More than 3,200 migrants crossed into Hungary on Wednesday — a record number — as the country’s military prepares to possibly send soldiers to the border.
Hungarian authorities have been told to expect 40,000 more migrants by next week, though Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has promised to cut to zero the number of migrants entering the country starting Tuesday.
A 110-mile razor-wire fence was recently completed and a barrier about 10 feet high is currently under construction along Hungary’s border with Serbia, where thousands of migrants arrive daily.
The military began exercises Wednesday to prepare soldiers who may guard the southern border pending a vote in parliament. The possible militarization of the border is being criticized by human rights organizations.
More than 150,000 migrants have arrived in Hungary this year. The Hungarian government will begin operating an “airport transit zone” on Tuesday to handle the asylum-seekers.
“While it is located in the territory of the given state, the entry into the transit zone does not qualify, in immigration terms, as an entry into that state,” Hungarian justice minister László Trócsányi said.
The European Union’s Dublin Regulation says asylum seekers must register in the first EU member country in which they arrive. Serbia is not a EU member while Hungary has been a member since 2004.
The transit zone implementation is also being criticized amid fears that asylum seekers could be stranded in a legal limbo and many could be rejected.
“We do not like the idea of transit zone, if transit zone means that the Hungarian legislation and European standards do not apply there,” Vincent Cochetel, regional refugee coordinator for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “I do not think the Hungarian authorities at this stage have fully thought through how it can work in practice.”
On Wednesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced that 120,000 additional refugees will be distributed throughout the European Union through binding quotas.