The Hungarian government set Nov. 30 as the date for the completion of their fence with Serbia on Thursday. Image by MyImages - Micha/Shutterstock
MORAHALOM, Hungary, July 16 (UPI) -- The Hungarian government set Nov. 30 as the date for the completion of their anti-migrant fence with Serbia on Thursday.
Hungarian defense minister said that 900 people would be employed to install the 109-mile-long, 13-foot-high border fence through the end of November. The fence aims to stymie the flow of migrants and refugees into Serbia, and was first announced on June 17.
Interior Minister Sandor Pinter said that inmates in Hungarian prisons will assemble the basic elements of the fence and that workers from public employment programs would also be involved if needed. Pinter added that the fence is temporary but is the only immediate solution Hungary could find to stop the large amount of individuals entering the country.
Several hundred protesters gathered outside St. Stephen's Basilica on Wednesday to demonstrate against the fence, claiming that the funds appropriated to the fence's erection would be better spent on building schools and hospitals. A representative of a Hungarian human rights group, Julia Ivan, said that Hungary has removed itself from the list of civilized European nations through its actions. She claims that it is wrong for the country to label a war refugee as an economic migrant.
So far, 81,300 migrants have entered Hungary this year. Many of these are coming from war-torn nations like Syria and Iraq seeking a way into more affluent countries in the European Union. Hungary is part of a passport-free zone that facilitates asylum in countries like Austria or Germany.
Civil rights groups and Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic have criticized the fence. Rights groups say it is a demonstration of Hungary's continued xenophobia while Nikolic claims it is an unfortunate decision on Hungary's part prompted by the migrant crisis. Rights groups are also critical of a Hungarian propaganda campaign that warned immigrants not to take Hungarian jobs. This campaign prompted the United Nations to distribute its own literature highlighting refugees who have successfully integrated themselves into Hungarian life.