BUDAPEST • Europe has more than 900 "no-go areas" with large immigrant populations, Hungary's government claims on a hard-hitting new website aimed at drumming up opposition to an EU scheme to share out migrants around the bloc.
In these areas "with a high number of immigrants", for example in Paris, London, Stockholm or Berlin, the authorities have "little or no control" and "norms of the host society barely prevail", the site says. Asked for the source of the information, government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs told Agence France-Presse yesterday it came from "data publicly available on the Internet", without giving details.
The website, launched this week ahead of a referendum in Hungary in the second half of the year on the EU quota plan, also features a ticking clock representing a migrant entering Europe every 12 seconds.
"The mandatory European quotas increase the terrorist risk in Europe and imperils our culture," the website says. "Illegal migrants cross the borders unchecked, so we do not know who they are and what their intentions are. We do not know how many of them are disguised terrorists," it adds.
If Hungarian voters reject the quotas in the referendum, as surveys suggest, this would be another blow for the troubled scheme.
Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday confirmed that migrant returns from Greece to Turkey will start on Monday under the terms of Ankara's deal with the EU.
As part of the deal, all economic migrants landing on the Greek islands after March 20 face being sent back to Turkey - although the deal calls for each case to be examined individually. For every Syrian sent back from Greece, the EU has agreed to resettle one refugee directly from Turkey.
Amnesty International yesterday said Turkey has illegally returned thousands of Syrians to their war- torn homeland in recent months, highlighting the dangers for migrants sent back from Europe under the EU-Turkey deal.
The legality of the deal hinges on Turkey being a safe country of asylum, which Amnesty said in a report was clearly not the case. It said it was likely that several thousand refugees had been sent back to Syria in mass returns in the past seven to nine weeks, flouting Turkish, EU and international law.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS