As Kosovars brave long journeys to find better life in the West, Germany, Hungary and Austria step up efforts to stem the flow. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
At the Eastern Railway Station in Budapest a group of men from Kosovo hope to board trains heading to Germany or Austria. In an effort to stem a wave of migration from Kosovo, officers from Hungary, Austria and Germany began a joint operation to turn the tide. These men are detained, and taken to the immigration police. Hungary is experiencing a surge of illegal entries from the south, mostly from Kosovo, the source of some 10,000 asylum applications in January alone. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has had enough. (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER VIKTOR ORBAN SAYING: "If we do not have laws that allow us to detain them immediately and deport them back, then Hungary will become a camp for economic migrants." Rights group argue that sending people back does not address the problem. Marta Pardavi heads the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF HUNGARIAN HELSINKI COMMITTEE, MARTA PARDAVI, SAYING: "They will try to find alternative routes into Europe, so I think simply putting up stronger border controls or border enforcement will not necessarily in and of itself lend a solution to this problem. What we need is a European co-operation, actually. Kosovo has to be helped, the EU needs to step up development aid to Kosovo in order to get at the root of this problem and to... so that Kosovo could be a viable, livable place for its population." In Germany, asylum seekers crowd dormitories hoping to begin a new life in Germany. They face steep odds. Germany rejected about 99 percent of asylum applications from Kosovars last year, and in January the approval rate was even lower, at 0.3 percent. (SOUNDBITE) (German) ASYLUM SEEKER FROM KOSOVO, ORHAN ISLAMY, SAYING: "I ask one thing: before they send people back, they should do something about this corrupt national and international government that we have in Kosovo. Because nothing is working at all there." Immigration has shot up the political agenda in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, with many voters angry about the cost and fearful that migrants and refugees will take their jobs.