Verhaal, 2 augustus 2022

The two realities of refugee reception in Hungary


‘Since the outbreak of the war, we’ve been working around the clock. We provide information and legal support to Ukrainian refugees. As we’ve always done, but now on a much larger scale and in more locations.’


'I’ve seen many strong women in the past six months. They travel alone, often with small children. There is so much sadness. Before the war, they probably had a life that looked a lot like mine.  Now they find themselves in a shelter, because they’ve had to leave everything behind. They are thinking about what to do next, where to go, which country or language would be easiest to learn. You need to be very resilient to be able to think like that, and so quickly after their displacement. I have so much respect and admiration for it.’

Two realities

‘Unfortunately, there are two realities at our borders. For other refugees, access to the asylum procedure is completely blocked. The number of violent pushbacks taking place at the Serbian-Hungarian border is staggering – thousands each month. These people are also seeking protection, but are encountering the very violent regime of Hungary.’


‘It’s difficult to say whether the general attitude towards refugees in Hungary has changed since the arrival of Ukrainian refugees. The government has done so much in recent years to destroy the existing asylum system and solidarity, with their hate campaigns against refugees.

That's why we're so happy to see so many people who weren’t influenced by those campaigns. They feel no hostility, and are still open to helping those in need – because they believe it is the right thing to do.’

Not afraid

‘Providing assistance to refugees and asylum seekers is still a criminal offense in Hungary. The government has not changed that, even though the European Court of Justice ruled it to be in violation of EU law. But we are not afraid; I think we've learned to live with it. We do the same work as before: we are a human rights organisation. We provide legal assistance to asylum seekers and refugees. We’re not doing anything wrong.'

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