Hungarian police secured a fenced-in refugee processing centre near the Serbian border on
Wednesday (1 June) to block about 300 protesting refugees from marching to Budapest, police said in a statement.
A Syrian chosen as spokesman for the protest gave a petition to officials at the camp in the town of Kiskunhalas, it said, and then urged the refugees to march to the Hungarian capital, about 150 kilometres (90 miles) to the north.
A video posted on the news website index.hu showed dozens of people chanting “freedom, freedom!” behind a high wire fence while dozens of police vehicles and officers with dogs patrolled the area to secure the perimeter of the camp.
“About 300 of the 484 detained refugees protested against closed quarters and slow processing of their cases,” said the statement. “Police have deployed significant force to secure the processing centre and the surrounding area and will stop refugees from leaving the premises of the centre.”
The camp is closed because it houses refugees who have been expelled from Hungary legally but have not yet been deported. Police spoke with the refugees and a conflict was unlikely, Gyorgy Bakondi, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s national security advisor, told public television M1.
Hungary was on the main overland route that about a million refugees took last year from the Middle East to Western Europe. Budapest diverted that traffic with a razor wire fence along its southern border with Serbia and Croatia.
Hungary will hold a referendum in September or early October on whether to accept any future European Union quota system for resettling migrants, the prime minister’s office said yesterday (3 May).
The flow has since slowed but thousands have still managed to make it through this year, keeping the issue in the public eye as Orbán prepares a referendum in which he will ask voters to reject an EU plan to re-distribute refugees.
Thousands of refugees camped out in front of a central Budapest train station for weeks last August before a large group of them decided to march for the Austrian border, forcing Hungary to abandon its efforts to process their claims and elevating tensions about the migrant crisis across Europe.