A new migration wave from North Africa threatens Europe amid the coronavirus pandemic, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said during a videoconference with 14 EU foreign ministers.
The videoconference, held on Spain’s initiative, was designed to discuss the increase in migration in the Mediterranean at a time when illegal border crossing have increased by 28 percent year-on-year, according to Frontex.
Szijjártó said that mass migration into Europe presents both health and security risks that are unique during the pandemic era.
The minister wrote on his Facebook page that even before the pandemic, the region in the Mediterranean already faced serious problems and migration was one of them. Following the coronavirus crisis, these problems have only worsened.
“Our position is clear: The European Union must make every effort to prevent new migration waves starting from North Africa,” he said.
Szijjártó believes two steps are necessary to achieve this goal.
“Our borders must be strictly protected, and developments must be carried out in places where they’re needed most,” he said.
Szijjártó pointed to Hungary’s support in the effort to secure Europe’s borders and aid those countries that serve as the source for migration by “offering help to several North African countries maintain drinking water supplies and health services”.
“Additionally, we are offering scholarships to 1,200 young north Africans at Hungarian universities, and we have supported persecuted Christians with 22 million euros so far,” he wrote, pointing to the Hungary Helps program.
He also highlighted how Visegrád Group, consisting of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, have sent €35 million to help aid with the epidemic and increase border security in Libya.
Recently, Hungarian MEP György Hölvényi outlined how Hungary has introduced a comprehensive strategy to halt migration from Africa while still helping those in need stay in their home countries, receive an education, and help build institutions that offer better societies in Africa.