Information Note on the Migration Situation in Hungary

Executive Summary:
• There have been 160,000 illegal border crossings into Hungary the highest per capita in any EU country in a migration crisis unprecedented since WWII.
• Hungary is obliged by all EU laws as laid out in the Schengen agreement on the protection of the common external borders and the Dublin regulation on the registration of refugees. Hungary could not let refugees leave the country without Austrian and German consent.
• On September 4 Austria and Germany, due to the extraordinary circumstances, agreed to the suspension of these rules. That is why Hungary was allowed to provide transportation to the migrants to the Austrian border.
• Hungary has provided food, water, emergency medical supplies and shelter to all who went to the designated shelters setup to house them.

What is the scope of the challenge?

The current situation is dramatic, this is the largest migration in Europe since WWII. Up to September 2 there have been 159,968 illegal border crossings into Hungary and 148,643 requests for asylum. On a per capita basis this is by far the highest in the EU and even in absolute terms it is among the highest. This places a huge burden on Hungary. None of the fundamental challenges have been adequately addressed by EU actions, if anything they have had a pull factor.

What is Hungary doing to solve the problem?

Hungary is doing everything within its power to keep the process within the legal framework of the European Union. The Government of Hungary are committed to enforcing the Geneva, Schengen and other EU rules and regulations, including Dublin. Hungary finds the protection of the Schengen borders, the registration of all asylum seekers, and a resolute and firm response to people trafficking of particular importance.

The arrival of almost 160,000 people caught everyone off guard. Hungarian authorities and Hungarian society are trying their best to provide aid to everyone who have arrived in our country. We continue to provide assistance to everyone at facilities set up to house the migrants, where they can also register their entry into the EU and ask for asylum.

Why is Hungary indifferent to the plight of migrants?

The Government of Hungary, as well as Hungarian society in general are deeply moved by the plight of the migrants whether they arrived in Hungary legally, or illegally. Hungarian civil society, charities and volunteers have been quick to respond en masse to the humanitarian needs of migrants. The Hungarian government has taken a dual approach and emphasized both the respect of all EU laws and obligations on the protection of external borders and national security considerations, as well as the need for humane treatment of migrants. It was for humanitarian reasons, that the Government of Hungary finally decided to provide emergency transport to thousands of people who wanted to leave for Germany, following the decision of Austria and Germany to allow this.

Why did Hungary build a fence on its border?

Hungary built the border fence to protect the common EU border and to ensure that everyone who arrives in the EU can be registered. EU law clearly stipulates the responsibility to protect the Schengen borders, if the Hungarian government failed to do this it would be in breach of international obligations: it must stop and register all who cross the borders.

The practice of certain countries to forego the most basic border controls and to let migrants pass without any kind of screening is not the right one. This allows migrants to reach the borders of those EU countries who respect our common laws quickly and unhindered. This is one of the main reasons that forced Hungary to build the border fence. Lack of border protection endangers Hungary’s membership in the Schengen area and poses a risk to all of the Europe. Hungary broke no international treaties or laws by erecting a protective fence on the border, furthermore this step is in no way unprecedented; Bulgaria, Spain, Greece have similar fences, as does the United States.

What caused the confusion at Keleti Train Station?

The current chaotic situation around Keleti train station in Budapest were the result of misunderstandings and unclear communication outside of the control of the Government of Hungary. There was a widespread understanding among migrants that Germany will accept all Syrian nationals, based on some misconstrued remarks by German officials. This has been denied by the German Chancellor herself and our German partners have made it clear that the Dublin rules are still in place, that is, everyone has to register and seek asylum the EU country where they first entered the territory of the EU. What this means for Hungary, a country that respects all EU rules, is that we cannot simply let he migrants through to other EU countries. The migrants were unwilling to accept this, refused to register with Hungarian authorities and move into shelters set up for them. In this tense situation Hungarian authorities tried to persuade them to register, but throughout the crisis the goal of Hungarian authorities in dealing with the situation continues to be to avoid violence. In order to deescalate the situation the leadership of the Hungarian State Railway company decided to cancel trains leaving towards Austria and Germany.

What is Hungary’s position?

Hungary’s position has not changed. The Government of Hungary has consistently called for addressing the root causes of the crisis and to help protect the lives and human rights of the affected people in their home countries. The international community needs to help stabilize source countries politically and economically and eliminate the conditions that lead to mass exodus in the first place. This was the main reason behind the Hungarian decision to send ground troops to combat ISIS and help the people of Syria to live in peace and freedom.

Hungary has also called the attention of the international community to the problem of the Western Balkans migration route well before the current media interest. Given the complexity of the problem Hungary has proposed a high level international summit on the Western Balkans migration route to take place in Budapest, Hungary. The Government of Hungary places particular importance on cooperation with source countries and transit countries in combatting human trafficking and in preventing illegal migrants from returning. Hungary urges rapid progress in these areas as well as in the more targeted and efficient use of Overseas Development Aid.

Hungarian society is not ready for massive immigration and this is a political reality that any democratic government must respect. At the same time Hungary is fully prepared to meet all its legal and moral obligations towards refugees.