Hungary will cease providing Kiskunhalas asylum-seekers with food by end of April

April 20, 2017

MTI Fotó: Ujvári Sándor

Refugees at the Kiskunhalas camp in southern Hungary have been notified that soon they will no longer receive any food or stipends for purchasing food.

Asylum-seekers at the camp were first told last week that the funds they receive from the Hungarian state for purchasing food will be withdrawn, a source inside the camp told the Budapest Beacon. At the same time, refugees were told that the camp will not offer them food provisions directly either.

According to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, individuals currently in their first asylum procedure and those with protection status will be taken Thursday to Vámosszabadi refugee camp, near the border with Slovakia. An estimated eight to ten people, including a pregnant woman, will remain in Kiskunhalas but will not be provided with any food or medical services after the end of April.

“Revoking the daily food ration of certain asylum-seekers in the open reception facility is inhumane and irrational except if the government’s aim is to force asylum-seekers to travel further west and seek protection elsewhere,” the Helsinki Committee said in a statement to the Budapest Beacon Wednesday night.

Refugees who were notified that they will be staying at Kiskunhalas are unaware of how they will access food supplies after next Friday. NGOs have reportedly been asked to step in to help feed the camp’s remaining residents.

Many of the Kiskunhalas camp’s residents have already left for Austria, with some fleeing ahead of the implementation of the law on mandatory asylum detentions. For those who remained at Kiskunhalas, the Hungarian government’s decision not to move them to the closed container camp along the border, at least for the time being, came as a significant relief. Nevertheless, the authorities’ decision to stop providing some asylum-seekers with food and services has prompted serious anxiety — and confusion — among the camp’s residents.

While Kiskuhalas’ remaining refugee population is small, it is unclear whether the government’s new policy will be extended to refugees in other locations who are waiting for decisions in their asylum cases.