Refugee fence needs to be built faster, says Hungary's leader

Refugee fence needs to be built faster, says Hungary's leader

Hungary’s prime minister says he wants to speed up construction of a fence meant to stop refugees on the southern border with Serbia – a project which has missed two previous deadlines.

Viktor Orban was quoted in the pro-government Magyar Idok (Hungarian Times) daily newspaper as saying he was persuaded of the need for more workers on the project after an unannounced inspection of the barrier on Monday with his chief of staff, Janos Lazar.

Hungary initially said that a 4-metre high fence would be built on the 109-mile border with Serbia by the end of November, but in July Mr Orban called for it to be completed by August 31.

Refugee fence needs to be built faster, says Hungary's leaderHungarian police officers secure the area as people rest at a temporary holding camp for migrants close to Hungary's border with Serbia in Roszke, Hungary, today. Pic: AP

A government statement implied that defence minister Csaba Hende resigned on Monday because of the unsatisfactory pace of construction by the military.

In Greece, the coastguard said its patrol vessels picked up nearly 500 migrants in 11 search and rescue missions over the past 24 hours in the eastern Aegean Sea.

The people, whose nationalities were not immediately clear, were found in small boats near the islands of Lesbos – which accounts for nearly one in two migrant arrivals in Greece – Samos, Kos and the islet of Agathonissi.

More than 15,000 refugees and migrants are stranded on Lesbos, awaiting screening before they can board a ferry to the Greek mainland – from where they head north through Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary to seek asylum in more prosperous European countries.

A child sleeps in his mother's arms at a temporary holding camp for migrants and refugees close to Hungary's border with Serbia in Roszke, Hungary, today. Pic: AP

Germany's vice chancellor said he expects the country to take 800,000 migrants this year, but is prepared for more long-term.

In an interview with Germany’s public ZDF television, Sigmar Gabriel said: “I believe we could certainly deal with something in the order of a half-million for a few years.

“I have no doubt about it – maybe even more.”

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