Hungary. The picture of the prisoners building a wall before our very eyes

Hungary is building a wall along the border with Serbia in order to contain the flow of refugees willing to enter Europe. A wall with the sole objective of blinding our conscience.

One of the main countries, and one of the most debated, chosen by refugees to reach Northern Europe is Hungary. Among the measures taken by Viktor Orbán’s government there is the construction of a wall along the border with Serbia, aimed to contain the flow of people illegally entering the country that, according to local sources, are taking to collapse the costs linked to welcome and shelter. The wall, once completed, will be 175 kilometres long and 4 metres high, with barbed wire, wire mesh, and bricks. Hungary said that 900 people are working to its construction, between army and prisoners.

These pictures are worth a thousand words. One, in particular, seems of other times, and could be mistaken for a frame of one of the most appreciated movies of our times, The Shawshank Redempion, by Frank Darabont. Yet, it has been taken on 11 September 2015, and maybe it will be remembered as one of the pictures that it is hard to understand how could have been realised in a historical period where the European Union has eliminated internal borders and where the Internet is overcoming the international ones. Where “it is impossible to be an island of prosperity in a sea of despair”.



Everyone has to know that the picture has been taken just a few days ago. Everyone has to know what is happening in Hungary and within the borders of the European Union at the moment. Don’t give in to “I’ve already seen this” and to “After all nothing changes”. Natalie Nougayrède, columnist for The Guardian and former Director of the French newspaper Le Monde, wrote that “Confronting the risk of European disintegration over the refugee crisis, as on other issues, is as much a battle for minds as it is a negotiation between governments.”


For this reason, rather than walls, we need to build physical bridges, to oppose the Hungarian wall, as well as moral bridges, able to demolish populism’s barriers, in order to avoid losing the success achieved with effort after the Second World War.



The cover picture has been taken on 22 September by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images and shows a group of Hungarian prisoners working to build the wall aimed to contain the refugees comingfrom Serbia

Translated by

Related articles
What is the Global Compact for Migration

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was signed by 164 nations in Marrakech. This is what the non-binding agreement that encourages international cooperation stipulates.