UN Refugee Agency Slams Hungary on Draft NGO Law, Border Zone

(Bloomberg) -- The United Nations’ refugee agency urged Hungary to withdraw a draft bill targeting civil groups helping asylum-seekers and to loosen restrictions along the razor-wire fence it has built on its southern border.

"For the past few weeks, UNHCR has observed that the Hungarian authorities are, on average, only allowing two asylum-seekers a day to enter the country through the two ‘transit zones’ at the border with Serbia," the agency said in a statement on Friday. "Hungary has practically closed its borders to people seeking international protection, in clear breach of its obligations under international and EU law."

As the government has withdrawn support for refugees, the importance of non-governmental organizations has grown even greater, the UNHCR said.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has made his anti-immigrant stance and attacks against Hungarian-born financier George Soros the centerpiece of his campaign for re-election in April elections.

Soros’s Open Society Foundations has condemned a proposed law on NGOs dubbed the "Stop Soros" bill, saying it serves to undermine democracy by attempting “criminalize” civil society and muzzle independent voices. The government says it’s trying to protect Europe’s Christian heritage against the mixing of cultures and people posing as refugees who are looking for economic benefits, while still considering applications from those who are genuinely persecuted.

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