Budapest, September 6 (MTI) – Hungary’s national police on Sunday warned against helping refugees get to Austria following an initiative by Austrian volunteers to organise lifts for refugees from Hungary to Austria in cars and vans.
Viktoria Csiszer-Kovacs, a spokeswoman for Hungary’s national police, reiterated the Austrian interior ministry’s stance that helping refugees cross the border into Austria could count as a crime. She did not clarify, however, whether the police intend to take action against the convoy.
Asked whether the police would take action against anyone helping migrants get to the border without directly crossing it, she said such an act would be considered aiding an illegal immigrant if it involves a financial transaction, provided that the person committing the crime is aware that he or she is helping someone who entered the country illegally, adding that each case needs to be examined separately.
More than 130 cars arrived in Hungary from Vienna on Sunday afternoon to pick up refugees and take them to Austria. After crossing the border, the convoy split up with cars heading to the border town of Hegyeshalom, Gyor in northwest Hungary and Budapest.
Austrian news agency APA reported that the volunteers made a stop in Nickelsdorf (Mikloshalma) to protest against the Dublin rules. The convoy was backed up by Austrian police until it reached the Hungarian border.
The group’s organiser told MTI that many of the volunteers had driven to Hungary on their own before to help refugees get to Austria, adding that the reason they are now doing it as a group is because it is “safer”. In response to a statement by Austria’s interior ministry saying that anyone taking part in the operation is punishable, the organiser said that the volunteers are risking “ridiculously less” than the migrants. The police should rather be punishing those who don’t take on migrants, the organiser said.
A spokesperson for the Austrian police noted that transporting migrants across the border counts as human smuggling in Hungary and is punishable by jail while in Austria it is considered an offence and is punishable by a fine of up to 5,000 euros.