Photographer Captures Refugee Chaos as Hungary’s Border is Sealed

On the border with Serbia, refugees fleeing war meet new obstacles.

New pictures by American photojournalist Lianne Milton give a sense of the chaos and confusion at the Hungary-Serbia border this week, where Hungarian authorities are trying to stem the flow of people escaping from Syria and other parts of the Middle East.

Milton has been working near the town of Roszke, Hungary, a point of convergence for people who hope to make it to Germany, Sweden, or other countries that have indicated they will accept some of those seeking asylum from violence further south. On Tuesday Hungary completed a 109-mile fence along the border and declared a state of emergency, saying they would not let any more refugees through until asylum applications are processed. The first 16 applications were denied.  

Those caught trying to cross the now-closed border illegally will be arrested, authorities said. Those denied asylum will be turned back.

Before the fence was closed, most of the arrivals were bused to nearby “transit zones,” says Milton, who lives in Brazil. She describes the zones as “basically detention camps, where people are being kept for days while they are registered, fingerprinted, and given bracelets with identification numbers. They have limited access to food and services and journalists are not allowed to enter.”