Hundreds of people have demonstrated in Budapest against the project to build a fence along Hungary’s border with Serbia to stop migrants from coming in.
Immigration and the country’s stance towards it have caused sharp divisions.
The protest was organised by Hungarian migrant solidarity group MigSzol which has described the barrier as “evil and absurd”.
“I have no idea whether this fence will really be built, I hope it won’t. It costs a horrendous amount of money, its practical benefit is zero, it’s yet more embarrassment for Hungary, it will isolate our country even more, so it doesn’t make sense,” said Márk Zoltán Kékesi, an activist with Migrant Solidarity.
noborderserbia Now talking ! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nowall?src=hash">#nowall</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/budapest?src=hash">#budapest</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/refugee?src=hash">#refugee</a>-fence <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/bringdownwallhungary?src=hash">#bringdownwallhungary</a> <a href="http://t.co/FvQIY91UIx">pic.twitter.com/FvQIY91UIx</a></p>— Migszol Csoport (MigSzolCsop) 14 Juillet 2015
The protesters tore up their own symbolic fencing, arguing that the money would be better spent on handling refugees, and that asylum seekers have a right to have their cases heard.
Euronews correspondent Andrea Hajagos reported from the demonstration:
“When the organisers announced this demonstration, they didn’t even know that by this time the construction of the fence would already have started at the Serbian-Hungarian border.”
Figures suggest the number of migrants – most from the Middle East and North Africa – has doubled. Some 2,000 were arrested last weekend.
Hungary’s government – unmoved by international condemnation – is pressing on with the planned 175-kilometre barrier to prevent migrants heading up from the Balkans into the EU..
The groundwork is being done by the army. The fencing, which is being made by prisoners, is due for completion by the end of November.