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Hungary and Austria reach accord on refugees

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Hungary and Austria reach accord on refugees
Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner. Photo: APA (Archiv/Schlager)
10:42 CEST+02:00
With increasing numbers of so-called illegal migrants arriving in Austria as refugees from war-torn places such as Syria, Iraq and North Africa, ministers in European countries are working to improve cooperation on dealing with the challenge.

Under the terms of the EU Dublin II agreement, refugees who arrive in any EU country need to be processed there first.  If they then travel to another EU country that is part of Schengen, they should then be repatriated to the country where they first arrived in the EU.

Hungarian Interior Minister Sándor Pintér and his Austrian counterpart Johanna Mikl-Leitner have signed an updated version of the readmission agreement between the two countries, which confirms that Hungary is prepared to take back refugees who arrive in Austria from Hungary.  

Such refugees will now have their cases heard by Hungarian courts. Similar arrangements already exist with other EU countries.

In addition, the two ministers met with Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic to discuss joint action on human trafficking and illegal migration, which is a serious problem in all three countries.

At a press conference following the meeting, Pintér explained that in 2013 Hungary saw between 24,000 and 26,000 illegal migrants cross its borders.  

Currently, all refugee camps in the country are full, and refugees currently being housed in tents in the Nagyfa camp will need to be rehoused in container dwellings before winter arrives.

According to Pintér, up to 6,000 refugees currently in Hungary are from so-called "safe" countries, which means these people will be sent back where they came from.  

Refugees from countries such as Syria will be treated differently, given the civil war in that country.

Mikl-Leitner said international cooperation is needed for the fight against human-trafficking.

The three ministers agreed that special attention should be paid to Macedonia, where human-trafficking is a particular problem.

Mikl-Leitner added that Serbia should be aided in its border protection efforts.

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