The Hungarian government has begun the process of relocating asylum seekers into two “container villages” while the European Court of Human rights (ECHR) has fought against the move.Officials in the Central European country have erected 324 residential units across two different “villages” for migrants with ongoing asylum applications. The villages will house migrants of all ages, including those who are underage. The ECHR has taken exception to the policy ruling that at least eight underage asylum seekers should not be housed in the new residences, Die Zeit reports.
The Hungarian government announced the move to relocate and limit the ability for migrants to move around the country in February with an estimated 586 migrants to be transferred to the new villages. Security adviser of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, György Bakondi, said Tuesday: “From today on, the expanded transit zone will be operational 24 hours a day.”
The villages are located in the “transit zone” near the Serbian border in the vicinity of the villages of Röszke and Tompa. The migrants living in the areas will only be free to travel elsewhere once their asylum claims have been accepted.
The reaction from many outside Hungary has been sharp criticism over the project. The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that eight underage migrants and a pregnant woman would not be housed in the villages. The court has also, according to an ECHR spokesman, sent a number of questions to the government regarding individual transfers and set a deadline of 10 April for the Hungarians to answer.
The issue was brought before the court by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights group who threatened court action in February.
Since the beginning of the year, Hungary had received just over a thousand asylum applications, down significantly from 2015 when hundreds of thousands were flowing through Hungary to Western Europe. The government in Budapest has been committed to their border fence to dissuade further migration from neighbouring Serbia, building a new addition to the fence this year.
The government has also recruited 3,000 men to assist in border security. These “border hunters” have been recruited from high schools as well as cities and villages across the country.
Budapest has also soundly rejected the redistribution of migrants from other European Union member states. Earlier this week, Hungary rejected a request from Sweden to take 5,000 migrants who had first registered for asylum in Hungary. Sweden argued that under the EU’s Dublin agreement regulations, Hungary is responsible for the migrants.