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Tags: EU | Serbia | Hungary | Migrants

Night Deportations from Hungary Crush Afghan Families' Hopes

Night Deportations from Hungary Crush Afghan Families' Hopes

Wednesday, 08 May 2019 05:38 PM EDT

SUBOTICA, Serbia (AP) — When they set off for Europe with their families some four years ago, two Afghan brothers never expected a European Union country to crush their dreams in the dark of night.

Their long pursuit was halted when Hungarian authorities deported the two families of asylum-seekers to Serbia a few hours apart on Tuesday night. Among them were three children and their five months' pregnant mother.

Night deportations are unusual, and human rights groups said no one was waiting to pick up the families on the Serbian side of the border. The U.N. Refugee Agency strongly condemned the expulsions Wednesday.

"Hungary's actions overnight to force two asylum-seeking Afghan families to leave the country under duress is deeply shocking and a flagrant violation of international and EU law," the agency, formerly known as the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said.

Hungary's plan to deport a third Afghan family was on hold after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in their favor, according to both UNHCR and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights group.

A teenage member of the second family ejected from Hungary after its asylum application was rejected told The Associated Press that "everything was terrifying last night" and both families were deeply disappointed.

Speaking at a Serbian migrant camp in the border town of Subotica, Mohammad Arab, 16, said Hungarian police told his family of five they could be sent either to Afghanistan or to Serbia where they had already spent more than two years.

"They treat us like we are not human, like we are animals," Arab said in English. "They don't care if my mother is pregnant, they don't care about any human rights, they don't care about anything."

Hungary, which tightened asylum eligibility rules and application procedures last year, has a double line of fences crowned with razor wire and equipped with sensors, cameras and watchtowers on its southern border with Serbia. The government has insisted several strands of electrified wiring are not meant to harm trespassers.

The government of right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban added the reinforcements starting in mid-2015. At the time, the height of a mass migration wave that caught Europe unprepared for refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly 10,000 people entered Hungary from Serbia on some days, hoping to reach countries in western Europe.

Arab said his family, which lived in Iran before starting their journey through Turkey, Greece and what is now known as North Macedonia, waited for more than two years in Serbia for a chance to apply for asylum in Hungary. They didn't want to go illegally with the help of people smugglers, as many other migrants do, he said.

The family then spent more than three months in Hungary's border camp for migrants. Arab said his family felt that Hungarian authorities did not seriously consider their asylum application before rejecting it. They appealed, but in vain.

"Two and a half years I spent to go to Hungary, and it was useless," he said.

The UNHCR said staff members in Hungary observed the families crossing the border and alerted colleagues in Serbia, who in turn informed Serbian authorities.

"The treatment of these families, including their removal from Hungarian territory with no serious effort to look at their claims to refugee status, is deeply regrettable" U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said.

Arab said his family's belief that Europe holds high human rights standards has been dashed. They might now seek asylum in Serbia, a poor Balkan country that went through a series of wars and crisis in the 1990s'.

"We hoped to have better future and (to) study ... to be someone useful for people, not be a useless person," the teen said. "I don't' have my dreams anymore."

____

Pablo Gorondi contributed to this report from Hungary.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


GlobalTalk
When they set off for Europe with their families some four years ago, two Afghan brothers never expected a European Union country to crush their dreams in the dark of night.Their long pursuit was halted when Hungarian authorities deported the two families of asylum-seekers...
EU,Serbia,Hungary,Migrants
639
2019-38-08
Wednesday, 08 May 2019 05:38 PM
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