Government discloses exact number of accepted refugees

January 16, 2018

20161215 Bicske Körmend menedékkérők helyzete
Refugee camp in Körmend in 2016 | Photo:árton Magócsi

The government has released the exact number of refugees Hungary accepted last year based on the Geneva Conventions.

According to a statement released by the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister on Monday evening, “Hungary does not accept the [EU resettlement] quota but has always proceeded in accordance with the law and international treaties.”

The statement notes that the Geneva Conventions oblige Hungary to give refuge to those who are eligible for international protection. The statement stresses that international protection only pertains to those whose life is in imminent danger. The government argues that the reason why it opposes the compulsory settlement of illegal migrants is that illegal immigrants whose lives are not in danger crossed Hungary’s borders from so-called “safe countries”.

The statement also notes that the number of asylum-seekers who eventually received asylum is public data regularly published on the Immigration and Asylum Office’s website.

According to the data, in:

  • 2015 – 508 people
  • 2016 – 432 people
  • 2017 – 1,291 people
  • 2018 – 38 people

received asylum in Hungary.

According to the Immigration and Asylum Office’s data, 90 percent of those who were granted asylum did not establish a permanent residency in Hungary, but instead took advantage of the right of free movement within the Schengen Area and left Hungary.

Currently, there are some 490 people residing in open or closed facilities reserved for asylum-seekers or protected persons, the statement claims.

Deputy undersecretary with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kristóf Altusz had earlier told reporters of the Times of Malta that Hungary had accepted 1,300 refugees in 2017. The statement, which was later confirmed by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó, caused an outcry from opposition parties, most notably Politics Can Be Different and Jobbik, that pointed out the government’s hypocrisy regarding immigration.

On Saturday, Jobbik chairman Gábor Vona announced his party would try to convoke an extraordinary parliamentary meeting at which Prime Minister Viktor Orbán would be compelled to disclose who the 1,300 refugees are, how they got to Hungary, where they came from, and where they are right now. Statements made by the government and its officials over the last couple of days would seem to contradict two long-repeated government statements regarding migration.

First, as spokesman for the UN Refugee Agency Ernő Simon told Bloomberg: “The government – which has rarely differentiated between refugees fleeing conflict and those arriving for economic reasons, frequently linking them to the threat of terrorism – is now asking voters to make distinctions.”

Second, the Immigration and Asylum Office’s data clearly show that, despite all the fear-mongering government propaganda, 90 percent of the asylum-seekers granted asylum left Hungary as soon as they received their documents.