Hungary suspends rule on accepting migrants for 'technical reasons'

Brussels has demanded an explanation for the breach of asylum rules

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The Independent Online

Hungary’s right wing government has suspended rules requiring it to take back refugees who have travelled through the country to other parts of the European Union.

Citing “technical reasons” for the indefinite period of suspension they said in a statement that the country “has used up the capacities at its disposal.“

Brussels immediately demanded an explanation for the breach of asylum rules, known as the Dublin Regulation, that were first drafted in the early 1990s. They require people seeking refuge to do so in the European country where they first set foot.

A European Commission spokeswoman demanded “immediate clarification on the nature and extent of the technical failure, and on the measures taken to remedy the situation.”

But a Hungarian government spokesman said the country is the “most overburdened among EU member states affected by illegal immigration.”

An EU summit this week will see leaders discuss proposals to redistribute asylum seekers from Greece and Italy but Hungary’s right wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said such a plan “borders on insanity”.

A gifted and popular strongman he has one of the most formidable electoral mandates in the EU, after sweeping a sweeping return to national power in 2010 with his party Fidesz. 

His position was strengthened last year when they won the European elections in May before taking control of virtually every town and city in Hungary’s local elections in October.

A week ago Hungary announced plans to build a four-meter high fence along the whole of its 100 mile southern border with Serbia to stem the flow of illegal migrants who enter Europe through the Balkans from the Middle East and Africa.

Most move on to wealthier western Europe, starting in neighbouring Austria, which itself has stopped processing asylum requests in an effort to pressure other EU countries to do more to help absorb waves of refugees pouring into the continent.

An Austrian Interior Ministry said it was pushing “to find a solution as quickly as possible.”

The EU Commission plan also foresees creating detention centres called “hot spots” to better identify migrants and refugees and calls for those who do not qualify for asylum to be quickly deported.

With thousands of new boat arrivals each week, France is increasingly turning back migrants seeking to reach northern European countries.

Meanwhile in Italy ships patrolling the Mediterranean have plucked more than 3,700 migrants from overcrowded and unsafe boats in the last two days, a spokeswoman from the country’s coastguard said.

On Monday alone, ships from several countries, including those taking part in a European Union mission called “Triton”, went to the aid of 18 different boats carrying 2,741 migrants on Monday, she added. 

Authorities also brought ashore a corpse in a metal coffin. The victim had been shot dead by men travelling on another boat near the Libyan coast, according to testimony by the migrants, Italian media reported. A Sicilian court is investigating the death.