When even a migrant camp is little refuge

(NVO) – Migrants in Serbia are largely free to come and go as they please but it’s a different situation in Hungary, where refugee camps require migrants to be held for 24 hours.

The policy prompted several migrants to jump a fence and try to escape the Roske refugee camp in southern Hungary on Saturday (August 29) in order to avoid being fingerprinted by authorities.

Footage shot by Radio Free Europe showed young men scaling the fence and dashing across roads and fields. Others were either stopped by police as they tried to climb the fence or were later captured during searches near the camp site.

Mark Kekesi is a volunteer with the independent advocacy group Migrant Solidarity and says he doesn’t think many migrants are escaping the camp but adds:

“The refugees are afraid of the Hungarian fingerprint regime because they are well aware of the fact that if their fingerprint is recorded in Hungary, then legally there is the opportunity for any Western European country to send them back to Hungary,” Kekesi said.

Migrant Solidarity has been helping migrants at a railway station in the town of Szeged, near the Roske refugee camp. Volunteers hand out food and water to migrants who are bused to the station from the camp.

The camp breakout comes three days after police there used tear gas against some 100 migrants who were protesting against the fingerprinting policy and against general conditions at the camp.

Radio Free Europe had reported that the migrants complained of being treated like animals and were being held for hours in scorching summer temperatures with no shade and little water.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants are trying to reach the European Union, fleeing violence and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

More than 140,000 migrants were caught by Hungarian police on the Serbian border so far this year.