Today the Austrian Government announced that it intends to close its border to refugees trying to cross from Hungary; Germany, too, has indicated it will seek to welcome fewer refugees. Consequently Hungary is expected to similarly strengthen its border with Serbia to make it more difficult for refugees to cross it. Those refugees that are still in Hungary or somehow make it across the Serbian border are to be detained and processed in detention camps, in accordance with the Dublin Regulation*. In practical terms, this means that Hungary (a Schengen country) will become the front line for filtering most of the applications for refugees heading north and hoping to reach Germany. However, we can reveal that nearly every person ‘processed’ in these camps in Hungary has been refused refugee status. Figures below show that less than 10% of the 42,777 persons detained in 2014 were awarded this status. An investigation back in May also revealed that the Hungarian authorities allegedly use drugs to sedate refugees in the detention centres. Details below…
UPDATE 1: Refugee children tear-gassed at Serbia/Hungary border by Hungarian police.
UPDATE 2: Hungary & Austria close border to refugees (anyone entering ‘illegally’ will be arrested): 1000s trapped in Hungary; 5000 taken to detention centres.
UPDATE 3: hundreds of refugees break out of Roszke refugee processing centre (see image below)
UPDATE 4: shocking video footage shows Hungarian guards throwing food at refugees held like animals in pens:
UPDATE 5: Germany introduced border controls on Sunday 13 September and also halted all train traffic with Austria.
“According to the Dublin regulation, refugees are required to await decisions regarding their status in the country where they first applied. Nevertheless, many will try and avoid this process and if they are caught in an EU-member state they risk deportation to the Schengen country of the EU they first entered. If that country is Hungary, from there they are likely to be deported to Serbia (via which most refugees reach Hungary).
UPDATE 6: Strategy of Germany is clearer: to welcome refugees – providing they are successfully processed first by Schengen country (gatekeepers) under Dublin agreement rules.
These moves by the Austrian and German governments are completely out of step with ordinary Austrians and Germans. In Germany, as refugees arrived at the main railway station in Munich, crowds waved and cheered and rushed forward to give presents. In Austria, people organised a convoy of citizen drivers to pick up refugees from Hungary and bring them over the border.
Hungary’s government also wants to four year prison terms for anyone (refugees) convicted of damaging the fence along the Serbian border, according to Janos Lazar, the minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s office.
A. The statistics
The following table shows the actual numbers of refugees processed in Hungary. Most refugees came from Kosovo, Afghanistan and Syria.
According to the Budapest Beacon (Hungarian investigative blog), Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (took office in 2010) described refugees as “unruly subsistence migrants” (which is code for: foreign criminals who want your job).
There are main refugee detention camps in Hungary are Debrecen, Vámosszabadi, Bicske, Nagyfa and Balassagyarmat. The total capacity of the network of camps is around 2,000 Debrecen, the largest, has 832 places. Roszke was the processing centre where the Hungarian authorities had attempted last Friday to bus hundreds of refugees who had been staying at the main railway station in Budapest (the refugees left the buses once they realised where they were being taken to).
Earlier this year the UNHCR warned the Hungarian Government that to return refugees to war zones (e.g. Afghanistan, Syria, etc) is a violation of international law.
Over 1.5 million Euros has been provided to the Hungarian Government by the UNHCR in 2014 alone to cover the costs of the detention centres. Similar amounts of money have been provided by the EU.
According to one refugee from Palestine – Naffa – who was held in detention for six months, the guards give many of the inmates Rivotril, a drug which should only be used to prevent epilepsy and anxiety attacks and which is classified as a controlled substance in Germany. Some, as a result, have tried to commit suicide, or self-harm. Máté Szabó, the human rights officer of the Hungarian parliament, claimed that 7,800 tablets of Rivotril, along with thousands of other sedatives, were given to 922 inmates at the Nyírbátor asylum prison over a one year period alone.
Szabo also reported that refugees who need to see a doctor or go to a government agency are led through the local town on a dog leash and in handcuffs.
It is believed that the underlying reason for the disturbance was overcrowding: the centre is meant to hold 800 refugees, but it has more than twice that number.