I. MOST IMPORTANT DATA
As of 14 September 2015 the Office of Immigration and Nationality reports that 191,702 migrants have crossed the border in Hungary in total (190,762 of them across the Serbian border), while the number of registered asylum applications stands at 170,578. The Office has made decisions in 67,000 cases; final decisions, however (mostly refusals), have been made in only just over two thousand cases, as the rest of the procedures have been terminated because before they could be completed asylum seekers have left for unknown destinations.
In total, 300 people have been granted asylum status, i.e. this is the number of migrants who have been recognised as refugees, persons permitted to stay temporarily or protected persons. At the same time, 95,000 applications are awaiting assessment, but the Office of Immigration and Nationality takes the view that most of the applicants have already moved on.
At the beginning of the year almost 25,000 people came from Kosovo, but later asylum seekers from Syria (63,000), Afghanistan (44,000) and Pakistan (15,000) were in the majority. According to the data of the Office of Immigration and Nationality, almost one third of Syrians have arrived in the last three weeks.
By the summer of 2014, the Hungarian government was already drawing the European public’s attention to the fact that economic migration will be the greatest challenge which Europe will be forced to face in 2015. Hungary’s position has been clear and explicit right from the beginning: Hungary is pursuing a policy which seeks to counter this process. We take the view that migration is a process which cannot be adequately managed and controlled, and must be brought to an end.
II. POSITION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF HUNGARY ON MIGRATION
Hungary will continue to observe all applicable EU and human rights agreements and conventions, as it has done in the past. Our position is humane and consistent.
Hungary is ready to receive everyone in need of protection, as it did, for instance, during the Balkan crisis. However, the Government firmly represents the position that modern-day economically motivated mass migration is harmful to Hungary. Therefore we are only able to provide protection to those who are genuinely fleeing for their lives and are compelled to leave their homes due to their political affiliation, race or ethnic identity.
Hungary continues to remain committed to protecting its borders, and continues to insist on complying with the provisions of the Schengen Agreement. This is not optional for any of the signatory countries, as the Agreement stipulates that external Schengen borders may only be crossed at border checkpoints. If the Hungarian government stopped complying with its obligations under the Schengen Agreement, this would automatically result in Hungary finding itself outside the
Schengen system, and its citizens would forfeit one of the most practical of European Union rights: freedom of movement between Member States.
Hungary is making every effort to keep the asylum procedure within the boundaries of EU law: it registers asylum seekers and conducts asylum procedures in accordance with relevant EU regulations. Regrettably, however, the authorities are increasingly faced with the fact that the vast majority of people coming to Hungary are evading the authorities and arriving illegally, and many of them are not even prepared to cooperate in official procedures.
III. INFORMATION ON THE CARE OFFERED TO MIGRANTS BY THE HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT
During the course of their journey, migrants entering Hungary are arriving in the first state to offer them genuine care, rather than merely sending them on their way. The ministry responsible for social affairs and health care has convened the Charity Council (which comprises church and civil society organisations) several times in order to coordinate the efforts of those who wish to help. The Government is continuously liaising with charitable organisations, and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has personally satisfied himself of their efforts and experience. In contrast to a number of Western European countries, migrants arriving here are safe; there has not been a single incident involving an attack on camps or reception centres.
Care provided for migrants
The Hungarian government has set up camps and opened a hangar near the Serbian border, where illegal migrants arrive in Hungary. At these facilities they are given food and water, and are also registered. They can use public transport, free of charge, to reach one of these four reception centres, where the Hungarian state provides care for them. The Government is setting up further camps to accommodate migrants.
The state spends HUF 4,300 per day on care for each illegal migrant. By comparison, the monthly minimum wage in Hungary today is HUF 105,000 (HUF 3,500 per day). In addition to three daily meals, after 30 days illegal migrants at reception centres receive a small amount of spending money, to dispose of as they wish.
Hungary provides disease-related and emergency care for every person within the territory of the country, regardless of their nationality. There have been several instances recently in which children have been born to migrant mothers in Hungarian state hospitals. Baby food and milk are provided for babies in sufficient quantities.
Those who have already submitted their asylum applications are eligible for free general medical care, including free medicine which may be necessary for their treatment, inpatient and outpatient care in surgeries and hospitals in medical emergencies, as well as personal hygiene products. Fewer than ten per cent of migrants attend medical screening tests, and only a fraction of them return for their results; this now represents a major epidemic risk in Hungary.
Care provided for children and schooling
Unattended minors are entitled to the same general child welfare services as Hungarian children.
One state home and one church home for children have been designated, where – in separate organisational units – they are assisted by interpreters, mental health experts and teachers.
Educational institutions near reception centres and camps are able to receive migrant children; these are not educated in segregated groups, but together with other pupils, in an integrated fashion. In order to provide adequate schooling and education, during their stay at the reception centres the asylum authority covers the school education costs of applicant children, as well as the cost of meals, travel, accommodation and one-off school enrolment support.
VIII. ASYLUM PROCEDURE
Method for submission of an application
In Hungary the asylum procedure starts with an application for recognition as a refugee submitted to the asylum authority; upon their arrival in Hungary applicants are required to immediately state that they wish to apply for international protection.
The authority to order asylum detention is not within the remit of the immigration authority, but that of the asylum authority. Detention may be ordered for a maximum period of 72 hours, which may be extended by a maximum of 60 days upon request by the asylum authority to a court of law. The asylum authority may request a number of subsequent 60-day (maximum) extensions, but the overall period of detention must not exceed six months.
Fingerprints and identity photograph
After submission of an asylum request, the Hungarian authorities are required to take the fingerprints of all applicants aged 14 or over; these fingerprints must be sent to the European Union’s unified fingerprint database (EURODAC), in order to ascertain whether the applicant has already submitted an asylum application or has previously stayed in another Member State. The fingerprints of migrants are treated confidentially in the EURODAC system. In addition to fingerprints, an identity photograph is also taken, which is likewise treated confidentially.
If this is the applicant’s first asylum application in Hungary, both the procedure before the authority and the procedure before the court are free of charge. Translation and interpreting costs are borne by the Office of Immigration and Nationality.
Procedural time limit
The procedural time limit is 60 days, during which period a personal interview is conducted. However, the authority has the power to assess applications within shorter periods in accelerated procedures.
Interview and its written record
A personal interview is conducted during the asylum procedure, with the assistance of an interpreter. At the interview the applicant must state the reasons for their application and the circumstances of their arrival in Hungary, and must provide the authority with any evidence in support of their application which has not yet been presented. The applicant is required to state why they were forced to leave their country and the reasons for their application, they must describe the details of the persecution they have been or may be subjected to, and must state the circumstances which prevent them from returning to their country of origin. It is important that the applicant should disclose the circumstances of their escape fully and correctly, and should specifically state the threat which they would have to face upon returning home.
The following decisions may be adopted in an asylum procedure:
• Recognition as a refugee
• Recognition as a protected person
• Temporary stay with special permit: the applicant may stay in Hungary temporarily
• Full rejection of application
• Termination of procedure
If the applicant is granted international protection as described above (refugee, protected person or prohibition of deportation to country of origin), they are authorised to stay in the territory of Hungary.
If the authority refuses the application, or the applicant withdraws their application in writing, prevents assessment of the application by refusing to make a statement, fails to attend the personal interview, or refuses to allow the taking of their fingerprints or photograph, and there are no other grounds for approving their stay in Hungary, the authority provides for the expulsion of the applicant from the territory of the European Union; this will be enforced by the immigration authority. The asylum authority may also issue a ban on entry and residence.
If the applicant refuses to allow the taking of their fingerprints or photograph, or refuses to make a declaration, the authority terminates the procedure, or adopts a decision on the basis of the information available to it. If the applicant departs for an unknown destination, the asylum authority may terminate the procedure, or may adopt a decision on the application on the basis of the information available to it.
The applicant may appeal against a decision refusing their application before a court of law within
the time limit stated in the decision. The court can either uphold or amend the asylum authority’s decision, but may also instruct the authority to conduct a new procedure.