UNHCR: Turmoil at Hungarian border causes refugee death


flickr.com/Metropolico.org, UNHCR

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) voiced strong concerns over the Hungarian government’s role in the reported death of a Syrian refugee at the Hungary-Serbia border, in which a group of refugees was pushed back into the Tisza River at the border on June 1, according to a press release issued on Saturday by the UNHCR.

(Picture: Flickr.com/Metropolico.org, UNHCR)

Hungarian police were forced to intercede and retrieve an Iraqi mother and her children from the water during the ensuing struggle, according to the UNHCR. During the chaos, a Syrian man was lost in the current, and the Hungarian police announced that they found the 22-year-old’s body in the river at the Hungarian town of Szeged on June 3, according to reports.

“The circumstances that led to this tragic death need to be swiftly and thoroughly investigated by the authorities on both sides of the border,” according to a report attributed to Central Europe’s Regional UNHCR representative, Monserrat Feixas Vihe. “Instead of finding safety and sanctuary in Europe, a young man has tragically lost his life.” 

The UNHCR has received over 100 reports of undue force directed against those attempting to cross the border since May. The organization mentioned Hungary’s admittance of 15-17 people a day at two transit zones, a rule established in September, as being responsible for the increasing tensions.

As asylum-seekers are forced into more desperate border crossing situations, they increasingly faced life-threatening circumstances, the UNHCR said.

The Hungarian government’s forceful response may have directly resulted in this unnecessary death, the UNHCR claims, and the press release asked EU Member States to reevaluate their approach to the refugee crisis and work more closely with the UNHCR to avoid future accidents. 

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