[ 15. Nov 2012 ]

The Situation of Refugees in Hungary

Hungary: Refugees between arrest and homelessness

Between arrest and homelessness. Report on year-long research up to February 2012 by and Pro Asyl with special focus on the implication of the Dublin II regulation.


Intorduction: On the creation of this report - general framework, gaps and methods

This report is based (in addition to the evaluation of written sources1) above all on reports by refugees(2) we met during various research trips in the period from December 2010 to December 2011 in Budapest, Debrecen, Bicske, Fót and Ba- lassagyarmat.(3) Further reports were obtained from people who had fled on from Hungary and were (or are) threatened with deportation to Hungary. We met most of them in Germany, but we also have reports from refugees whose flight led them to Sweden, Holland, Austria and France. In part we conducted individual interviews, but frequently also discussions with groups of refugees. We did not concentrate on quantitative data collection, but rather on intensive discussions over a longer period at various locations - mainly with refugees from Afghanistan and Somalia.

For reasons of guaranteed anonymity for those interviewed, anonymised initials are used in this report. The transcriptions of the audio recordings or the notes made of the interviews are in the hands of the authors.

The group interviews and discussions had, besides the simple collection of data, a special significance: in the course of these talks, debates arose on the fundamental elements of European migration and integration policies. The refugees spoke of the effects of these policies and made an appeal for the political changes required. The recommendations in the last chapter are the result of their reports and suggestions.

Imprisonment plays an important role in the assessment of the realities of life for asylum seekers. We have not seen the prisons in Hungary from the inside. Official delegations are often confronted with the problem that the authorities responsible try to present themselves in the best possible light and put pressure on the prisoners beforehand not to mention negative aspects of their imprisonment. For this reason qualitative interviews with former inmates were held for our research under conditions permitting free expression. The knowledge gained here was compared with the reports produced by other organisations or delegations, especially the Hungarian Helsinki Committee(4), which (as recently as December 2011) painted an alarming picture of the prison conditions for refugees in Hungary.

This report has two gaps - it would be necessary to fill them in later publications: on the one hand, interviews with women are the exception. This is mainly due to the fact that refugees in Hungary are predominantly men. However, the question of female migration has special relevance, as fleeing women are in a particularly vulnerable situation. The homeless Somali women we spoke to in Budapest placed special emphasis on this aspect.

Apart from a box on page 32, the report does not concern itself with the specific predicament of one of the largest refugee groups in Hungary, the Roma from other East-European countries. As a consequence of the increasing anti-Roma pogrom atmosphere (for example, in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Romania), Roma are also the victims of intensive discrimination, hate and violence. This form of persecution does not lead, however, to guarantees of international protection in the other EU member states; nor does the EU in general seem to be able to confront breaches of human rights effectively in other areas. The question of how to manage European refugee movements goes far beyond the refugee situation in Hungary and the issue of inner-European deportation, and calls for a special debate.

Some of the refugees we met in Hungary we had previously encountered: in Greece or Ukraine on their way to the European countries where they hoped for protection and a safe place to stay. Contacts also exist to Hungary via the Border Monitoring Project Ukraine (BMPU)(5). In Greece an 'Infomobile'(6) has regularly travelled since summer 2010 to locations important for those fleeing through Europe. From these contacts the trust has developed that is needed when such personal and often painful experiences are spoken of.

:: Download report: "Hungary: Refugees between arrest and homelessness" (pdf, 850 KB, 46 pages).

Find a collection with reports and legislation (mainly in German language) on the website :: and useful reports for appealing against a deportation to Hungary in english on ::


1 See list of sources at the end of the report.

2 The term 'refugee' is not used in this report in the legal sense, but for all people forced to leave their homeland. When used in the legal sense, we refer to 'Refugee according to the Geneva Convention on Refugees (GCR)' or 'recognised refugee'.

3 The following journeys were made: 17./18. December 2010 (Budapest, Bicske, Debrecen), 28.-30. January 2011 (Budapest, Debrecen), 29./30./31. March 2011 (Budapest, Debrecen), 11.-24. July 2011 (Budapest, Bicske, Balassagyarmat), 24.-27. November 2011 (Fot), 3.-6. December 2011 (Budapest).

4 The Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) is a Human Rights NGO that has been concerned for years with human rights violations in the Hungarian refugee camps and prisons. The HHC coordinates a network of asylum law lawyers. An HHC lawyer is on hand in the open camp at Debrecen; Committee lawyers also make weekly visits to the prisons for migrants and carry out border monitoring on the Ukrainian and Serbian borders. Website of the organisation (in part also in English) ::

5 Border Monitoring Project Ukraine (in English) see ::

6 Infomobil in Greece (in Englisch) ::

Source ::, 06. Nov 2012.