In one country’s latest move to “deal with” the Syrian refugee crisis, the Hungarian government has put the world on notice that it will not allow migrants to enter the country illegally. Earlier this morning, the government posted warnings in both Jordanian and Lebanese newspapers that crossing the country’s borders illegally is punishable by imprisonment.
The full-page announcements state that “the strongest possible action is taken” against those who attempt to do so. The ads further state that, “Do not listen to the people smugglers. Hungary will not allow illegal immigrants to cross its territory.” The warnings were posted in Arabic and English.
Hungary’s stance is the latest wrinkle in the crisis as all of Europe is under significant pressure from tens of thousands of refugees who are risking their lives in efforts to reach European nations in order to seek sanctuary. The country closed its border with Serbia on September 15th and has now erected an additional steel barrier at one border crossing with Croatia to try to stem the flow of migrants. The migrants keep coming, however, and the majority are Syrians.
Hungary chose to publish the warnings in Lebanon as the Mideastern country houses over 1.1 million Syrian refugees. It also chose to publish in Jordan, which currently has a population of 630,000 refugees. Many of these refugees are receiving no work opportunities or aid and therefore they are planning to migrate to Europe.
As harsh as Hungary’s announcements seem, they are not the first of their kind. Earlier this month, one of Denmark’s governmental agencies posted ads in Lebanese newspapers hoping to deter migrants from crossing into Denmark. The ads stated that the nation has reduced aid to migrants by one-half and also that migrants whose applications are denied will be deported immediately.
In contrast to the positions taken by some European countries, Lebanon is taking a different stance. Agencies have appealed to financial donors to help the country deal with the refugees, which includes providing free schooling to refugee children. Elias Bou Saab, the Lebanese Education Minister, stated that the country will take into its schools even more children than last year. While the government plans on enrolling 200,000 refugee children, that leaves another 200,000 without schooling.
Bou Saab told reporters that, “There are a still greater number of students out of schools, and that is a danger, danger to Lebanon and to the region. When they lose hope that there is no job opportunity or chances to go to school or chances that give them hope in life, they start to look for legitimate and illegitimate ways to go from one place to another [meaning the current exodus to Europe].”
While many European countries recognize that increased funding to Lebanon and other Mideast countries is the key to slowing down migrants from trying to reach Europe, others are not contributing anything - or at least as much as they can.
Some analysts believe that wealthy Gulf states are not paying their fair share and also suggest that the United States is not contributing as much as it could.
The raging civil war in Syria has been going on for five years and has produced greater than four million refugees and has killed more than 250,000 people.