Hungary is building a large new barrier capable of delivering electric shocks to unwanted refugees and migrants and armed with heat sensors, cameras, and loudspeakers that blare in several languages, along its southern border.
The country was a main crossing point for hundreds of thousands of people trekking into Europe at the height of the migrant crisis in 2015.
“Attention, attention. I’m warning you that you are at the Hungarian border,” the loudspeakers say in English, Arabic and Farsi.
“If you damage the fence, cross illegally, or attempt to cross, it’s counted to be a crime in Hungary. I’m warning you to hold back from committing this crime. You can submit your asylum application at the transit zone.”
The “transit zones” are two border posts where a total of just 10 migrants per day are allowed in legally. Rights groups say they are wholly inadequate and, by creating such a tight bottleneck, may be illegal.
The new floodlit fence of wire reinforced with steel will give anyone who touches it an electric shock that well-informed sources say is mild.
Only 10 kilometres of the new structure has been completed but officials say the remaining 140 kilometres (along the border with Serbia will be finished in just two months, built largely by 700 prison inmates.
Hungary’s populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called mass immigration from the Middle East and Africa an existential threat to the European way of life.
The government has earmarked 38 billion forints ($0.13 billion) for the new fence. Orban’s chief of staff Janos Lazar said on Thursday the total cost of the border effort, including patrols and transit zones, was nearing €1 billion ($1.05 billion).