Hungary starts construction of second border fence

Hungary has begun building a second line of fence along its southern border with Serbia, a government spokesman said on Feb. 27, a move likely to exacerbate criticism from some of the country's European Union partners.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing government considers migration to be one of the largest threats to the status quo in the EU. But officials in Brussels and some other EU centers are distressed by some of his go-it-alone policies.

A European Parliament committee, for example, was due on Feb. 27 to discuss the state of fundamental rights in Hungary. Orban was also a rare EU leader to endorse U.S. President Donald Trump, who is seeking to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

A barbed-wire fence is already in place, erected in 2015, when Hungary was part of the main overland route for hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees, many fleeing the war in Syria.

It effectively blocked that route to Germany, where many were heading, but Hungary has said a second fence would make the barrier more effective and hold back migrants while processing their asylum requests.

Although the pressure on the border is far from the peak of the 2015 crisis, border patrols still prevent hundreds of illegal border crossings per day and escort back dozens of migrants who manage to break through, the government says.

Poles for the second fence are already standing near the border station Kelebia, and construction materials have also been shipped to the border elsewhere.

Orban's chief of staff, Janos Lazar, last week said the government had earmarked 38 billion forints ($130 million) for the fence and containment camps to hold migrants.

He said the second border fence, which will...

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