[ 03. May 2016 ]

Humanitarian disaster on the transit zones, unclear plans on legislation, and climate of fear

Hungarian-Serbian border, 27th April 2016. Photo by Andras Siewert, Migration Aid

Update on the asylum policy in Hungary. Many are asking about the situation in Hungary regarding the transit zones and the planned legislation that would abolish all integration contract. In this article, Migszol have gathered some of the latest information on the situation.


Regarding the :: planned legislative changes, the only update we have is that people who are staying in camps are no longer receiving cash allowances. This is especially worrying considering the poor/limited quality and amount of food in the camps. People are no longer available to supplement their diet with the cash allowance. Regarding the planned abolishment of :: the integration contract for recognized refugees, and other changes, there is no further information, not even regarding to whether or when the parliament would discuss the matter. We would also like to remark that while the topic of people seeking protection crossing into Hungary is, once more, a topic in the national media, the planned legislative changes are not.

The situation is particularly worrying in the so called transit zone at the southern border. While access to the actual containers where cases are handled in extreme speed is restricted, humanitarian groups are working on both sides of the border. We especially recommend this :: testimony from a volunteer at the humanitarian group Migration Aid, describing the situation in the transit zone this week. :: Migszol Szeged is also present in this area, as well as Serbian groups. Furthermore, this recent, powerful :: video testimony from the transit zone, made by :: Volunteers on the Rise this April, is very telling of the situation.

The media outlet :: Index has recently reported on the conditions in the zone. The most frequent reports include:

  • The number of people who are allowed to seek asylum in the transit zone is restrained to 20/day per container, amounting to ca. 40 people per day
  • Single men need to wait much longer than families, but also families need to wait up to two weeks
  • In the area in front of the transit zone, they are not allowed to put up tents, there are zero hygienic facilities.

"To illustrate the reception they receive upon arrival let me share my own case of approaching the Hungarian border fence from the Serbian side. It was raining and I probably looked soaked and in disarray, but my '' jacket was clearly visible. Despite this, they must have took me for an asylum seeker, because I saw 5-6 police officers and soldiers gather at the spot where I approached. I heard one of them say 'lets spray him with a bit of gas' and took out the teargas canister. I figured it was best to quickly identify myself and let them know that I did not intend to cross the fence."
Migration Aid volunteer, Andras Siewert

This week it was :: revealed that the translation provided for those people who are currently in court for inciting violence in the Roszke area in September was fake. Worryingly, and quite shockingly, it turned out an entire paragraph had been added to the testimony of one of the defendants. Recently, Channel Four has :: reported on this scandalous, very obviously political case, where a blind person, and a person in a wheelchair, are accused of starting a riot in Roszke last October.

At the same time, the government has announced that they will set up a tent camp in Kormend, in the vicinity of the Austrian border. The tent camp should accommodate around 300 people. How legal aid, health care and psycho-social support will be set up in the camp remains a mystery. In response to the camp, the Austrian authorities have begun to build a :: fence on the Hungarian border. For updates from Bicske, you may see our :: recent blog post, and for updates from Vamosszabadi, the other open camp, we hope to be able to update you soon.

We are extremely concerned about the new plan of the Austrian government to push back asylum seekers to Hungary and Italy. Leaving Hungary is becoming extremely difficult - undercover policemen, quite clearly relying on racial profiling, are trying to catch people in the train stations, and the cars travelling from Hungary to Austria are being checked. Regarding Austria's planned legislation, we wonder how Austria can :: declare Hungary a safe country, when Finland has :: completely stopped Dublin deportations to the country? In our recent discussions with people seeking protection, we heard of many cases where people have been pushed back to Hungary in total disregard of the EU legislation that would ask for a Dublin case. Those people deported to Hungary are systematically detained.

Migszol is increasingly worried about the fact that the rhetoric and language that Hungarian politicians and authorities use about refugees remains unnoticed. During the celebration of the 5th anniversary of the Fidesz-drafted Hungarian constitution, the Prime Minister Viktor Orban :: stated that "islamization" is against the constitution of Hungary that defines the country as Christian. The rhetoric of Orban, as well as other notable politicians in Hungary, increasingly relies not only on islamophobia, but an increasingly racial definition of muslims as a separate ethnic identity that needs to be separated from white, Christian Hungary. For instance, Santha Hanga, a director of  research at the :: Migration Research Institute that advises the Hungarian government on migration-related issues recently :: stated in an interview that the integration of Muslims is not possible without "behavioral therapy" that would address muslims’ lack of individual sense of conscience. To get an idea of the government's line, you may also read :: the recent essay in English from Maria Schmidt, the chief historian of the Hungarian government. Although there are severe ongoing crises in Hungary regarding corruption at the National Bank, in the education and healthcare section, migration continues to dominate the news of the state TV.

Article published first on 29. Apr 2016 in ::