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Jan 08, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

Here’s Hungary’s response to the persistent migration threat

The figures point in an increasingly concerning direction. It’s no longer a question of one’s stance on immigration; definitive action is needed to stop illegal border crossers from flooding the European Union. This is why Hungary is doubling the number of armed personnel protecting its southern border.

Szilárd Németh, parliamentary state secretary at the Defense Ministry, confirmed that, at the request of Interior Minister Sándor Pintér, Hungarian Armed Forces will double the number of soldiers protecting Hungary’s borders with Serbia, Romania and Croatia against the persistent migration threat. Németh made the statement following a visit to Hungary’s southern border fence on Sunday, adding that after such additions, armed personnel at the border will surpass 500 units.

Going the extra mile, Hungary has also recently expanded police cooperation with Serbia and North Macedonia in an attempt to prevent illegals from even reaching the Hungarian border. Earlier this week, twenty members of the 40th Hungarian contingent headed to Serbia to assist in border protection tasks there, while thirty members of the 45th contingent left to do the same in North Macedonia. The main task of the Hungarian police will be to patrol the border areas, as well as inland areas, to prevent and detect illegal border crossings. The Hungarian police will also be involved in apprehending human smugglers and illegal migrants.

While members of the armed forces have been accompanying police officers patrolling the border since 2015, the resurgence of illegal border-crossing attempts over the past year justifies the need for bolstered defenses. It’s no longer about one’s perception of immigration; it’s about some of the most alarming figures seen to date.

If we look at the numbers and compare illegal border-crossing attempts in 2018 to the figures from last year, we find that illegal migration activity along Hungary’s southern border fence has, in fact, significantly intensified. By the first week of December 2019, some 13,000 illegal border-crossing attempts were intercepted by Hungarian border police, a steep increase from 6,500 in 2018. That’s 17 per day in 2018 versus 37 per day in 2019. More than double.

To underline how striking this increase has been, illegal border-crossing attempts have not adhered to a gradual increase. Instead, the threat has grown exponentially. In December 2018, border police repelled 390 attempts, while in 2019, that number grew almost tenfold to 3,299.

Sadly, data recorded in the first week of 2020 does little to soothe our fears. On the contrary, Hungarian border police intercepted 212 illegals on January 1 alone, contributing to a total of over 900 attempts during a six-day period. It’s starting to look a lot like the worst days of 2015…

The big difference, however, is that if those days do return, Hungary now has everything in place to protect its borders and better prevent illegal immigration to the EU’s Schengen Area.