Migrants injured in mass brawl at Hungary refugee camp

AFP, Monday 18 Jul 2016

Eight people were hospitalised after a mass brawl involving some 200 migrants broke out at a migrant camp in Hungary Sunday, a senior government official said.

A group of around 20 asylum-seekers -- including Algerians, Syrians, Pakistanis, and Mongolians -- triggered the violence when they exchanged blows before attacking each other using furniture, said Gyorgy Bakondi, chief advisor to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The incident happened at around 8 pm (1800 GMT) in Kiskunhalas, 150 kilometres (95 miles) south of the capital Budapest, close to the southern border with Serbia.

As many as 200 police were needed to restore order, Bakondi told state news agency MTI.

Nine people sustained non-life threatening injuries.

The Kiskunhalas facility is one of three closed camps in Hungary where claims by asylum-seekers are processed.

An estimated 740 migrants were kept in the camps in June, according to refugee rights group the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.

Around 400,000 migrants and refugees passed through Hungary in 2015 before Orban's right-wing government sealed its southern borders with razor wire and fences in the autumn.

Numbers have been rising sharply again in recent months however, rising to a total of around 17,500 by the end of June.

Earlier this month, Budapest introduced new security measures including the forced return to no-man's land between Hungary and Serbia of any migrant found within eight kilometres (five miles) of the southern border .

In a report released in mid-July, Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced Hungary for "cruel and violent treatment" of migrants in April and May, accusing police and soldiers of beating people before forcibly expelling them back into Serbia.

The government rejected the claims, saying HRW was "misconstruing the rules relating to the asylum proceedings out of obvious ignorance of the situation".

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