BUDAPEST, Hungary – A fence should be built along Hungary's border with Serbia to keep out the growing number of migrants, the mayor of a village in the area said Thursday.
The forests of Asotthalom in southern Hungary have become a popular stop for migrants, most of them from Kosovo, seeking to reach Germany and other destinations in Western Europe.
Kosovo is grappling with one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe, and its citizens are fleeing hard times in one of the continent's most isolated countries.
Mayor Laszlo Toroczkai said Hungary should use EU funds for border protection to build the fence, which would have to be around 20 kilometers (12 miles) long just in his village. Hungary's land border with Serbia totals 151 kilometers (94 miles).
"There is no kind of border surveillance now," Toroczkai said in a telephone interview. "There could be terrorists or criminals among the migrants and it is a risk for Western Europe, too."
Toroczkai, from the far-right Jobbik party, said thousands of non-EU citizens were reaching his village daily. Most request asylum, are handed over to police and taken to the nearby city of Szeged for processing.
"There are so many migrants on the buses from here to Szeged that our own residents are unable to get to their jobs on time," Toroczkai said.
Hungary is one of the border countries of EU's Schengen zone, which allows for passport-free travel. It is easier for migrants to move further west once they are in Hungary, which is a transit country but not a destination for most migrants.
Hungarian police on Monday detained 330 undocumented migrants from Kosovo traveling on a train from Budapest to Munich, Germany. Many had already requested asylum while others did so upon being detained.
Hungary's Office of Immigration and Nationality said it had received nearly 13,000 asylum requests so far this year, compared to 43,000 in all of 2014.