West News Wire: When Russia declared war on Ukraine, Hungary opened its borders to tens of thousands of people fleeing the country. Other refugees have been abandoned in a field in Serbia with no assistance.

Hasib Qarizada sought shelter in Hungary after his home Afghanistan devolved into anarchy last August, after studying there for three years. Rather than offering Qarizada asylum, Hungarian police rushed him across the border into Serbia six months ago, dumping him in a nation he didn’t even know.

In Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, Qarizada told The Associated Press, “Police immediately came over and handcuffed me.” “They told me not to try to flee, not to fight with us, and not to do anything dumb.”

Left all alone in a field in Serbia with no one in sight for miles, the 25-year-old Qarizada had no idea where he was, where to go or what to do.

“I was a student, and they just gave my life a totally different twist,” he said. “They didn’t give me a chance to grab my clothes, my (phone) charger or my laptop or anything important that I would need to travel.”

He told the AP he “had no idea where Serbia was, what language they speak, what kind of culture they have.”

Hungarian police haven’t immediately responded to AP’s request for a comment on Qarizada’s expulsion in September.

While Hungary is notorious for how its treats migrants fleeing wars and poverty, Qarizada’s case points to a particularly sinister practice of sending people into a third country they hadn’t come from.

Rights activists in the region registered the first such case back in 2017, when a 16-year-old Kurd from Iraq was deported into Serbia from Hungary though he had initially entered Hungary from Romania and managed to reach Austria before he was sent back.

More recently, a woman from Cameroon who entered Hungary from Romania was sent to Serbia last December. Another African woman who flew in from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, a year ago also ended up in a field in Serbia.

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“This is something that unfortunately has become normal, regular and something which cannot be considered as unusual,” Serbian rights lawyer Nikola Kovacevic said.

Qarizada’s expulsion illustrates the stark differences in the treatment of people from Ukraine and those from non-European war zones under right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Similarly, Croatia another EU country that has been accused off using violence against migrants has said Ukrainians can come and stay.

Activists have applauded the shift while also warning of discrimination against refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa, who for years have faced perils and pushbacks at the borders of Hungary, Croatia and other European nations.

“For those of us following these issues, it is hard to miss the stark contrast of the last few weeks with Europe’s harsh response to people fleeing other wars and crises,” said Judith Sunderland of Human Rights Watch. “A staggering number of people from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East die every year attempting to reach Europe.”

Zsolt Szekeres from the Hungarian Helsinki Committee noted that “the (Hungarian) government is trying their best to explain now why Ukrainians are good asylum-seekers and others are bad migrants.”

With Hungary’s April 3 election approaching, government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs dismissed as “fake news” media reports that authorities were discriminating even among the refugees arriving from Ukraine.

Border pushbacks, which are illegal under international law, means that people are sent from one country to another without consideration of their individual circumstances.

When, like Qarizada, they are expelled to a country they hadn’t come from, “the severity of the violation is higher,” said Kovacevic, the Serbian lawyer.


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