Hungary bolsters anti-migrant fence on Serbia border

Hungaria's rightwing government sealed off the southern borders with Serbia and Croatia in the autumn, constructing a wire fence to stem the flow of migrants (AFP Photo/Elvis Barukcic)

Szeged (Hungary) (AFP) - Hungary said Monday it had begun reinforcing its anti-migrant fence on the Serbian border following an increase in arrivals after the evacuation of Idomeni camp on the Greece-Macedonia frontier.

Last week, Greek officials moved some 8,400 people from the squalid, makeshift Idomeni encampment to reception centres elsewhere in the country.

But Hungarian authorities said some people had managed to make their way up the migrant route, despite the border closure imposed in mid February by many Balkan states in a bid to halt the influx to northern Europe.

"Following last week's closure of the Idomeni refugee camp, the number of migrants trying to cross Hungary's barrier has increased," said Gyorgy Bakondi, chief advisor of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The daily number of illegal entries had risen from 70 to 90 people, to between 100 and 150 since Idomeni was evacuated, Bakondi told national Kossuth radio.

As a result, the government will install "permanent barriers" in places where the barbed wire is considered "no longer sufficient" to keep the migrants out, he said.

An AFP photographer on the Serbian side of the border spotted between 200 and 250 people waiting to enter Hungary on Monday.

Around 300,000 migrants and refugees passed through Hungary last year before the rightwing government sealed off the southern borders with Serbia and Croatia in the autumn.

The measures -- together with tight border patrols and tough new laws punishing illegal entry and vandalism of the fences -- slowed the flow to a trickle as Europe grapples with its worst migration crisis since World War II.