Submitted by: Veronica Coffin
Almost 500 people on job seeker’s allowance told to report for duty or face having their dole money stopped as Hungary races to complete fence by end of the month
Members of the Hungarian Defense Force build a temporary border fence at the Hungarian-Serbian border in Asotthalom
Almost 500 people on job seeker’s allowance have been told to report for duty as labourers or face having their dole money stopped as Hungary races to complete the fence by the end of the month.
The Hungarian plan for the 108-mile barrier has provoked sharp international criticism with some labelling it a new Iron Curtain in Europe. But the Hungarian government has defended its decision, saying the wall is needed to curb the growing number of migrants targeting the Schengen-zone country as a gateway into the EU.
Last month Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, described illegal immigrants coming from the “depths of Africa” as a threat to Europe’s existence.
Members of the Hungarian Defense Force build a temporary border fence at the Hungarian-Serbian border in Asotthalom (AP)
Drawn from the ranks of unemployed in southern Hungary, the draftees, if they pass a medical declaring them fit, will work eight-hour shifts on the fence.
Csongrad County government, the body organising the draft, said most of the workers will carry out menial tasks such as clearing vegetation and handling materials, although it added it was on the lookout for skilled workers to operate machinery.
One unemployed man called up for service on the border fence told Delmagyarorszeg, a local paper, that he had been told he would get HUR 51,000 a month (about £116) and two meals a day for his labour, but added that if he refused the job he risked losing his monthly jobseekers’ allowance of £52.
Hungary’s Fidesz government has introduced some of the toughest unemployment benefit rules in Europe since winning the first of two consecutive election victories in 2010. Benefits have been slashed and there has been an expansion in public work programmes using the unemployed as labour.
The government has announced plans to phase out unemployment assistance completely by 2018.