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May 13, 2016

Hungary is the most obvious route into EU for asylum seekers

Migrants pay taxi drivers 100 EUR to be smuggled to the Hungarian border

Taxi drivers are charging migrants 100 EUR to be smuggled from Belgrade to the Hungarian border, it has been revealed.

In a report published by the Irish Times, it was determined that Hungary presents the most obvious route into the European Union for asylum seekers.

The newspaper sent an investigative reporter to the border area where he observed the activities of refugees trying to make their way into Hungary.

“It is well after 9pm when a fleet of taxis pulls up at the empty terminal. A dozen burly drivers huddle together to agree their price for the short run to the border; other cars park nearby, laden with food, water, warm clothes and basic medicines for the cabbies’ intended customers,” he writes.

“A Serbian police car crawls by several times. Officers survey the scene and trundle on, apparently having seen nothing of concern.”

“The taxi drivers, meanwhile, wait until every cab has a full allocation of passengers and a price is agreed; they were overheard agreeing on 20 EUR per migrant, which would bring in 80-100 EUR for each quick trip to the border,” concluded the reporter.

“The migrants are coming continuously,” Istvan Bacskulin, the outgoing mayor of the border village of Horgos, told the newspaper.

“The numbers are nothing like last summer,” he says, “but every night taxis drop them in Horgos or Kelebija [another border village] and they look for a way through the fence. It’s been cut open in lots of places.”

This trip leaves dozens of migrants tantalizingly close to what they see as the last major obstacle to a new life in the EU.

“Hungary is next,” Suhail, a refugee, a teacher from Iraq said, after receiving a food parcel from United Nations refugee agency workers. “We know there’s a fence on the border. But we have to get across somehow. If we can’t do it legally, we will try another way.”

Last week, Hungary‘s Supreme Court gave the prime Minister the green light to hold a referendum asking citizens if the European Union should be permitted to "impose the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without the consent of parliament."

The EU has been trying to implement a contentious scheme for the redistribution of asylum seekers from overwhelmed member states such as Greece and Italy to other EU countries, but relocations have barely started amid opposition from Hungary and other Eastern European members.

Under Hungarian law, a referendum is valid only if turnout is more than 50 percent. The opposition already said it will seek to undermine the referendum with a boycott.

Read more here.