UNHCR: Another 42,000 refugees coming within days

Int’l Relations

About 42,000 refugees will come through Hungary in the next few days, Vincent Cochetel, director of the Europe Bureau of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, told a press conference in Budapest this evening.

Vincent Cochetel director of the Europe Bureau of the UNHCR, right, at the press conference. (Photo: BBJ)

“For the next few days, a minimum of 37,000 are coming from Greece, and roughly 5,000 are already in Serbia,” Cochetel said. He added that Hungary, and the rest of Europe, can expect the flow of refugees to continue at its current rate through October, and probably to reach this pace again in the spring.

When you look at the millions of refugees being accommodated in Turkey and other countries near Syria, the refugee flow to Europe is not so bad, according to Cochetel. “We believe it is a manageable problem,” he said, but he added that it would only work smoothly if European countries can cooperate.

Cochetel said he had been meeting with officials in Hungary to discuss the situation, including the new law on border crossings that goes into effect here on September 15. He said that he had no objections to the way the law is written, but added that  “there are a lot of question marks” about the way the law will be implemented. For example, he said that the law provides for intensive screening of asylum seekers at the Serbian border and he noted that Hungary does not have the facilities for this level of screening.

Cochetel also said that, if police treat an asylum seeker attempting to enter Hungary as a criminal, it would be in conflict with the 1951 Convention on Refugees, an international treaty to which Hungary is a signatory.

Cochetel praised the efforts of Hungarian authorities, especially the police, in handling this crisis so far. He said the UNHCR has offered to provide additional assistance, but thus far the Hungarian government has refused to accept further assistance from them.

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