16 Sep 2015

Hungary uses water cannon and tear gas against migrants

Hungarian riot police use tear gas and water cannon against refugees trying to cross the border from Serbia on the second day of a crackdown on migrants.

Riot police, backed by special anti-terrorist units with armoured vehicles and water cannon, advanced towards a crowd of migrants and refugees at the Roszke border crossing. The migrants were the other side of a metal fence built by Hungary’s government to keep them out (watch video above).

Police issued a statement, accusing “aggressive” migrants of breaking through the fence. A United Nations official at the scene said they did not appear to have breached the barrier.

A spokesman for the Hungarian government said the migrants were “armed with pipes and sticks”. Reuters reporters there did not see any armed migrants, but television pictures showed some people throwing objects at police over the fence.

(Above: live from the Hungary/Serbia border)

Many of the migrants and refugees at the border are hoping to reach Germany via other countries, as others have done before them. But Hungary, a member of the EU, is not letting them through.

As a result, some people travelling through Serbia have decided to continue their journey north via Croatia, another EU country, which is allowing migrants entry.

Fleeing war

Migrants, many of them Syrians fleeing war, have been trying to get to Germany after Angela Merkel’s announcement that she would allow hundreds of thousands of people to settle there.

Germany has since said that it needs to control numbers, while Austria is planning to extend tougher border checks with Slovenia, having already taken this action at its frontier with Hungary.


On Tuesday, as Hungary introduced stricter border controls, nine Syrian and seven Afghan refugees were detained for illegally crossing the razor-wire fence at the border town of Roszke. Hungary said migrants who had not submitted asylum applications in Serbia would only be allowed to enter the country at legal border crossings.

The tougher approach to migrants started in Germany at the weekend, when Berlin temporarily suspended the Schengen agreement – allowing the free movement of people within the EU – and introduced controls at its border with Austria. An estimated 800,000 migrants are expected to arrive in Germany by the end of the year.

The EU’s 28 member states have been unable to agree a quota system for refugees.