According to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951, a refugee is
a person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it (Article 1 of the Convention)
On average, the number of refugees in Hungary is approximately 3500-4000, mostly coming from the former Yugoslavia, Africa, and the Middle East.
Apparently due to pressure from the EU and the change of the government in 2010, Hungary has started to adopt stricter immigration measures and controls. Owing to its geographic location as the outer border of the Schengen area, more pressure is put on the country by other member states that wish to keep their sovereignty and keep away unwanted asylum-seekers as much as possible.
As opposed to previous practices, when newly arriving asylum seekers had been accommodated either in detention centres or in the closed screening facility in Békéscsaba, this camp has been turned to a detention site for families and the Hungarian authorities detain, every asylum seeker arriving in the country without any official documents. According to the latest regulations, the detention capacity was increased, the length of detention was raised from 6 to 12 months.
Those asylum-seekers who enter the country with the necessary official documents are accommodated in the open refugee camp in Debrecen, where they wait for their claims to be processed. On receiving the refugee status, they are to be placed in the open pre-integration centre in Bicske where they spend a maximum of period of year after which they start their integration process to the Hungarian society.
Currently there are four operational detention centers and one refugee refugee camp and one pre-integration centre in Hungary located in:
- Budapest Airport
- Debrecen: open refugee camp where asylum seekers are referred after applying for a refugee status and stay while their claim is being processed.
- Bicske: those granted a refugee status are placed to the pre-intergration camp where they can stay for a period of maximum one year and where they will start the preparation for their future integration into the Hungarian society.
According to the Hungarian regulations, there are three different statuses that may be acquired by asylum seekers after their case have been reviewed:
1, Refugee (menekült): this is valid for indefinite time, buti n certain cases the government can withdraw this status. Refugees are illegible for any rights and services available for Hungarian citizens except for the righ to vote at parliamentary elections. After three years of continuous stay in Hungary they can apply for Hungarian citizenship in case of fulfilling many different conditions.
2, Subsidiary protection (oltalmazott): this staus is given for 5 years but the authorities can review or withdraw their status earlier. This status can be renewed after having been reviewed.
3, Tolerated stay (befogadott): this is valid for one year, but the authorities can review or withdraw their status earlier. This status can be renewed after a new review.
How does the Refugee Service of HRC try to help:
- Visiting detention centres and refugee camps on regular basis in order to assess the needs, monitoring the conditions, assessing medical needs and providing assistance for those accommodated in these facilities
- collecting and distributing donations (clothes, shoes, cleaning materials, books, beddings, medical aids etc.) in refugee camps and detention centres alike
- providing assistance and advice in foreign languages
- keeping in touch with authorities, stakeholders and co-operation with other NGOs active in this field
- co-operation with international organisations, searching for and applying grants to widen the scope of activities