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Austria wants Hungary to have better borders

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Austria wants Hungary to have better borders
Defense Minister Doskozil. Photo: Ricardo Herrgott/Ministry of Defense
23:32 CEST+02:00
Austria on Friday offered to help Hungary secure its border with Serbia, which is already well-protected but where migrants continue to cross in a bid to reach northern Europe.

Hungary has long been criticised by its European partners for its treatment of migrants, having sealed its border with Serbia last year with razor wire and making illegal border crossing a criminal offence punishable by jail.

Austria's government was one of those that criticised the measure by the government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Austria's defence and interior ministers met Friday with their Hungarian counterparts and announced the creation of a working group "to organise the common security of the external (EU) border" of Hungary, Austrian Defence Minister  Hans Peter Doskozil said.

The Austrian daily Die Presse said this week that Austrian soldiers could be sent to patrol the border under the plans.

This week the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) sharply criticised Hungary for conditions at a makeshift transit camp on the border with Serbia for people waiting to be admitted into Hungarian "transit zones".

"We remain concerned about Hungary's restrictive approaches and the dire situation asylum-seekers face outside the transit zones," said Samar Mazloum, head of UNHCR's local field office.

"Currently, only 15-17 people are admitted daily at each zone, leaving hundreds to suffer day and night without any proper support at the EU border".

Other migrants attempt to cross the border into Hungary clandestinely in a bid to continue on to Austria and Germany to seek asylum.

The Austrian defence ministry says around 150 migrants arrive in Austria every day from Hungary -- where most of them are registered -- having travelled from Greece through Macedonia, Bulgaria and Serbia.

Currently Austria is not sending any back to Hungary following a court decision last September that prevented an Afghan family being returned because of "inhumane conditions" in Hungary.

Austria, which saw 90,000 people claim asylum last year, the second highest per capita in the EU, says that there are several thousand migrants that Hungary should take back.

Despite reticence from Budapest, the two countries have begun negotiations on the issue.

Under the European Union's much-criticised Dublin Treaty, asylum claims must be processed by the first EU member state in which refugees arrive.

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