The Hungarian government has deployed additional 1,500 troops and police officers on its border with Serbia, as it extended a nationwide “state of emergency” in response to the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe.
Interior Minister Sandor Pinter made the announcement during a press conference in Hungary’s capital Budapest on Wednesday.
Referring to the decision to deploy more security forces on the border, Pinter said: “We do not know how the migrants stuck in the Balkan countries will react”.
The move comes just a day after Slovenia announced the closure of its border crossings to those who do not have valid European Union entry visas, effectively blocking the Balkan route that refugees use to reach Western Europe.
Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia have drastically tightened border restrictions since late 2015, leading to a sharp increase in refugees attempting to breach Hungary’s 175-kilometre fence on the Serbian border.
On Tuesday Hungarian police said that 127 people were caught attempting to enter Hungary from Serbia. They are among the 976 people arrested by Hungarian police since March 1 for breaching the fence.
More than a million refugees and migrants reached European shores by boat in 2015, according to the UN agency for refugees (UNHCR), while an estimated 141,930 have made it to Europe since the beginning of this year.
Earlier this week, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s office announced plans to slash subsidies and services for refugees and asylum seekers in the country.