Hungary is setting up its new border ranger units because it is seeing more and more people smugglers at its borders who are becoming increasingly aggressive, a state secretary of the interior ministry said on Friday.
Altogether 10 percent of Hungary’s 19,000 prison inmates, or some 2,000 people, are foreign people smugglers, Bence Rétvári told public current affairs channel M1, adding that their share was over 20 percent in the prison in Szeged, in southern Hungary.
Because the handling of people smugglers — most of whom are Bulgarian, Serbian, Macedonian and Middle Eastern — requires the authorities to perform a range of additional administrative tasks, they cost the budget an extra 4 billion forints (EUR 10.1m) a month, Rétvári said.
Illegal migration into Hungary has not slowed despite the war in Ukraine, the state secretary said, adding that more and more people smugglers were reaching the country and becoming increasingly aggressive.
So far this year, a total of 133,000 illegal migrants have tried to enter Hungary, compared with 122,000 all of last year, he said. The authorities have apprehended 999 people smugglers so far this year, as against 600 by mid-summer 2015, he added.
Rétvári said a shooting between migrant groups in Subotica (Szabadka), near the Hungarian border, last month indicated that people smuggler rings were fighting each other for control over migration routes. If Hungary’s borders weren’t properly protected, this could happen in Hungary, too, he added.
“Meanwhile, Brussels is busy speeding up its procedures against Hungary,” Rétvári said.
“They’re inviting migrants to Europe, while migrant-sending countries aren’t stabilising, which is why the border rangers are needed.”
He said the border rangers could begin serving at the southern border in September alongside the police officers currently posted there before gradually taking over border protection duties from them. So far, more than 7,700 people have expressed interest in becoming border rangers, the state secretary said.