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Lighthouse Reports accuses EU in financing Balkan secret prisons


Refugees are being locked up in secret locations on the external borders of Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria, according to research by Lighthouse Reports, among others. The locations lack the most basic facilities, let alone that the people get a fair trial. The locations are co-financed by the European Union.

Although rumours about the lawless detention centres have been circulating for some time, journalists have now shown that those places really exist. Hundreds of refugees have testified about the secret locations.

Footage from the Bulgarian town of Sredets shows that several people were locked in a kind of barn with steel bars. According to the journalists, some sat there for days, and there was not always enough food and drink.

In Hungary, refugees were locked up in sea containers, in which some had to spend the night. There, too, they did not always get enough food and drink. The guards additionally attacked the refugees with pepper spray.

The containers were then returned to the Serbian border. There, the journalists discovered a frequently used pushback route between Hungary and Serbia.

In Croatia, refugees were trapped for hours in hot and crowded vans. A woman from Afghanistan told reporters that she was in a van for eight people with twenty people. Among them were also small children.

EU contributes to illegal sites

According to Lighthouse Reports, it is not about incidents at the border. The researchers found that the location in Bulgaria was also staffed by Frontex personnel. These border guards work for the European Union.

In addition, European money goes to illegal detention. Bulgaria spent around 170,000 euros in EU funds in 2017 to renovate the Sredets police station. That’s where the mentioned barn stands. And the Hungarian buses used in pushbacks were purchased in 2017 with 1.8 million euros from the EU. Furthermore, the EU provided hundreds of millions to the responsible border authorities in Bulgaria, Hungary and Croatia.

The refugees were often sent back from the discovered places to the European external border, while they are entitled to an asylum procedure.

Written by: Patrick O'Brien

Patrick O'Brien is a student who is taking only the first steps in journalism. The main interest is events from the world of macroeconomics and finance.

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