A gaggle of migrants’ huddles beside a small, smoky fireplace inside an deserted constructing in northern Serbia, the final moments of heat earlier than they set out into the driving snow towards the razor wire, cameras and sensors of Hungary’s electrified border fence.
A couple of hours later, they return, their efforts to cross by way of Hungary and towards Western Europe thwarted by the three-meter (10-foot) fence and heavy Hungarian police patrols which, after intercepting them, escorted them again throughout the border into Serbia. “I will Austria, I will Germany, I will the Netherlands,” says Muhtar Ahmad, a 26-year-old from Aleppo, Syria, who’s squatting with round 35 different migrants within the makeshift camp outdoors the Serbian village of Majdan, a mile (lower than two kilometers) from the Hungarian border. “I am not staying in Hungary. What’s the issue?”
As migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and different international locations embark on the final stretch of their lengthy journeys towards Europe’s wealthier nations, their efforts to cross irregularly into the European Union by way of Hungary – and the nation’s contentious observe of returning them to Serbia when they’re caught – have made them a part of a political marketing campaign with which Hungary’s nationalist chief hopes to win an upcoming normal election.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who polls recommend will face his closest election in additional than a decade in April, is campaigning on a strict anti-immigration platform and is eager to make use of the prospect of a wave of migrants amassing at Hungary’s border as a way to mobilize his conservative voter base. “Simply this yr we stopped and detained … greater than 100,000 folks,” Orban claimed at a uncommon look earlier than journalists in December. “If the Hungarian fence had not stood there, greater than 100,000 extra unlawful migrants could be now first in Austria, then in Germany.”