Let’s get this straight: No, we are not “starving” asylum seekers

As the European Parliament prepares to debate next week a report on the state of rule of law in Hungary, a new charge against the Hungarian government has delivered a noisy and convenient distraction from the underwhelming substance of the so-called Sargentini report.

Here’s the charge: Hungary is denying food to “refugees” and, according to a Human Rights Watch official writing on Twitter, “starving people in custody.” According to Deutsche Welle, we are “using starvation tactics” against refugees. 

Those at Hungary’s border who have requested asylum and are awaiting the outcome of the formal procedure to receive asylum, are, first of all not in “custody”. Our “Transit Zones” are there to ensure that only those enter the EU who has been cleared to do so. Asylum seekers, waiting for their case to be judged continue to receive food and shelter as they always have. They are allowed entry into the transit zones and fed and accommodated and that’s the case as long as they have requested asylum and their claim is under review. In fact, the Hungarian state spends approximately 700 000 HUF per person per year to provide food and shelter to asylum seekers and those who have been cleared to enter the country and enjoy legal status.

We continue to fully uphold all of our formal, international obligations.

However, Hungary is not responsible for those who have not requested asylum and those whose requests have been denied. There’s no free lunch for illegal immigrants.