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Migrants Protest Border Closures       07/24 11:03

   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.


(KA)

 
 
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