Migrants Protest Border Closures

Migrants Protest Border Closures

BACKI VINOGRADI, Serbia (AP) -- A group of migrants and asylum-seekers who set off two days ago on a protest march toward Hungary said Sunday they want to ask the European leaders why their borders have been closed for the thousands fleeing war and poverty.

Several dozen people arrived Sunday near Serbia's border with Hungary in a bid to protest its decision to keep the border shut for most asylum-seekers, which has left several thousand people stranded in Serbia.

Some 300 mostly young men and boys from Afghanistan and Pakistan started marching Friday from Belgrade toward the Hungarian border, 200 kilometers (120 miles) away. Faced with scorching heat, many gave up along the way.

Hungary recently strengthened anti-migrant controls on its southern border, admitting about 30 people a day, mostly families with small children, and pushing back those caught trying to cross illegally.

Hundreds of migrants already are staying in makeshift camps along the border with almost no facilities.

"I have a message for EU leaders, I want to go to the border and stay and ask why you closed the border," said 19-year-old Mohammad Amin from Afghanistan.

Amin said he has tried twice to cross into Hungary, but was pushed back. He claimed Hungarian police were using "dogs, spray, electroshocks" against the migrants.

"They said to me to go back (to) Serbia," he said.

Faced with a pileup of refugees, Serbian authorities also have announced stricter joint army and police border controls with Bulgaria and Macedonia, where migrants mostly enter Serbia. Most of the people stranded in Serbia have refused to apply for asylum there, fearing it would ruin their chances of reaching any EU nation.