Budapest: Hungary said on Wednesday it was considering using the army to secure its southern border, where record numbers of migrants are streaming into the European Union, many fleeing war in Syria.
Police said a record 2,533 migrants – most of them from Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan – were caught entering Hungary from Serbia on Tuesday.
More may have passed unnoticed, walking through gaps in an unfinished barrier to a Europe groping for answers to its worst refugee crisis since World War Two.
Hungary, which is part of Europe’s Schengen passport-free travel zone, is building a fence along its 175-km (110-mile) border with Serbia in a bid to keep them out.
Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said parliament would debate next week whether to deploy the army.
“Hungary`s government and national security cabinet ... has discussed the question of how the army could be used to help protect Hungary`s border and the EU`s border,” Kovacs said.
The numbers travelling through the Balkans have soared in recent weeks, with 3,000 entering Macedonia daily from Greece.
Embroiled in a debilitating economic crisis, Greece has taken to ferrying mainly Syrian migrants from its overwhelmed islands to Athens, from where they head north by bus. Some 50,000 hit Greek shores in July alone.
Serbia said around 10,000 migrants were passing through the country at any time, their stay lengthening as Hungary nears completion of the fence.
“The situation will get worse, when winter arrives. We’re getting ready to look after double that number,” Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.