Hungary is one of the few countries that serve both as a transit and destination country in the refugee crisis. Between May and September 2015, the number of Syrian refugees at its borders increased from 500 to 8,000 a day. However, few of them are allowed to stay.
Hungary’s asylum system is one of the strictest in the EU. In 2014, less than one in ten of all asylum applications was accepted, compared to an EU-average of 45%. The majority of applications for asylum in Hungary came from people fleeing war zones like Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Despite repeated requests by the European Parliament and NGO’s like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to respect human rights and allow more refugees to enter the country, the situation in Hungary seems to deteriorate. In October 2015, Hungary closed its borders for all refugee streams. And in March 2017, the Hungarian government passed a law allowing asylum seekers to be detained.
How should Hungary continue to deal with the refugee flow? What role should the EU play in changing countries’ attitudes? And more importantly, how will Hungary deal with even bigger numbers of refugees in the future due to a deteriorating climate and demographic state of many of the sending countries?
On 26 April 2017, Debating Europe and the Hungarian Millennium Institute organised a debate evening in Budapest entitled “Is there justice over there too? Wall, war, escape and migration in the 21st century” as part of our ‘Cities & Refugees‘ project. Citizens and experts joined together to talk about the humanitarian implications of Hungary’s current approach towards refugees, and whether Hungary’s overall approach towards migration is sustainable.
Speakers of the debate were Júlia Iván, Director of Amnesty International in Hungary and Balázs Orbán, Director of the Migration Research Institute. The debate was moderated by Director of the Millenium Institute András Pulai.
You can watch the recorded footage here:
What do you think? Should Hungary accept more refugees? Is the EU putting enough pressure on Hungary to change its behavior, or is this a national issue? Do you think Hungary’s approach towards migration is sustainable? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!