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Apr 29, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

Once again, no, we are not “starving” people in the transit zone

On Friday, The Guardian published an article claiming that the Hungarian government is withholding food from asylum seekers and moreover making it almost impossible to satisfy the requirements for getting shelter in the transit zone since “anyone who had arrived in Hungary from a safe country was automatically ineligible. Most people arrive from Serbia, which is considered safe."

Instead of responding to the article’s many gratuitous assumptions and accusations – this story about Hungary starving people, by the way, is a line that’s being aggressively pushed by the Soros-funded Human Rights Watch and Hungarian Helsinki Committee – let’s take a look at the current legal framework, laws that are perfectly in line with international regulations.

According to Hungary’s current act on asylum, those who request asylum at Hungary’s border and are awaiting the outcome of the formal procedure are permitted to enter the transit zone. The asylum authority may terminate the procedure if the person who is seeking recognition, inter alia, leaves the transit zone [Act LXXX of 2007 on Asylum, 80/K § (2) d)]. The situation at the border is substantially different than what we read in The Guardian depiction.

Asylum seekers who have requested asylum and whose claim is under review continue to receive food and shelter as they always have. The government regulation clearly declares that in the transit zone the following must be provided: accommodation, three meals a day, dining and sanitary utensils for personal use [21.§ (1)]. To asylum seekers and those who have been cleared to enter the country and enjoy legal status, the Hungarian state spends approximately 700,000 HUF per person per year to provide food and shelter.

And about Serbia. The Act says that the application cannot be accepted if a safe, third country exists for that applicant, if he or she stayed there, traveled through the country, and would have had the opportunity to seek effective protection in that country (51§). A country can be declared a safe, third country by the asylum authority if it meets several strict conditions. Serbia falls under this category.

However, we take the position that Hungary is not responsible for those who have not requested asylum, nor for those whose requests have been denied. The government of Hungary accepts the necessary responsibility for those who have properly submitted an asylum request and are complying with the legal process. But the government of Hungary is, first and foremost, responsible for the safety and security of Hungarian citizens.