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Hungary Reopens Serbian Border Crossing After Migrants Demand Entry

Updated

Migrants camp beside the border fence at the Serbian Kelebija border crossing near Subotica on February 6.

Hungarian police have reopened a border crossing with Serbia, after hundreds of migrants ended a protest demanding entry into Hungary.

"The Tompa road border-crossing has been reopened," a statement on the police website said on February 7.

The crossing had been temporarily closed after some 200 migrants, including children, gathered at the site and demanded to be let into the country.

Wrapped in blankets, the migrants stood in freezing weather and whipping winds late on February 6 at the Kelebija border crossing, holding their possessions as they blocked traffic.

Children shouted "Open borders!" while some migrants held signs reading, "We are refugees, not criminals," "We are running from war, not hunger," and, simply, "Let us cross."

One man told the HVG.hu news site: "We are peacefully protesting. We want to be allowed to continue our journey toward Western Europe."

They were later taken by bus to reception centers in Serbia, said Svetlana Palic, spokeswoman for the Serbian commissariat for refugees.

Their claims will be processed in the same way as those of other asylum seekers, Palic said.

Several thousand migrants fleeing war and poverty in their home countries are stranded in the Balkans as they seek entry into the more prosperous countries of Western Europe.

During the 2015 migrant crisis, far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government erected a razor-wire-topped fence on the 175-kilometer-long frontier -- one of the EU's external borders.

Hungary said more than 3,400 attempts to cross the border were made last month alone, compared with several hundred a month in 2019.

Officials say most of the migrants come from the war-torn countries of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen.

Hundreds of thousands were able to pass through the Balkans in 2015-16, when about 1 million people entered Europe.

A week ago, about 70 people attempted to get into Hungary at another Serbian border crossing in the night darkness but were driven back after security personnel fired warning shots in the air.

Serbia's RTS reported that Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin was traveling to the border to assess the situation

With reporting by AFP and AP
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