In 2013, the government proposed to support migration advocacy NGOs

January 23, 2018

Migránsok a Keleti pályaudvarnál
Migrants near Budapest’s Eastern Railway Station in August 2015 | Photo:árton Magócsi

Supporting NGOs dealing with migration, developing their capacities, setting up a cooperation forum for such NGOs, and organizing programs seeking to encourage the inclusive attitude of Hungarian citizens were the key objectives of the migration strategy Hungary submitted to the European Union in 2013, HírTV reports.

In the midst of the government’s current hysterical anti-migration campaign, Hungary’s 2013 migration strategy seems quite absurd. The strategy is in stark contrast to the government’s current stance on immigration advocacy NGOs, which it portrays as stooges of American financier and philanthropist George Soros intent on undermining Christianity and Hungary’s national sovereignty. in 2013 Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s cabinet advocated the support of volunteers helping the integration of migrants, the organizing of public awareness campaigns and “facilitating the ability to adapt to cultural diversity.”

The government submitted the migration strategy as part of the 2014-2015 EU budget. The European Committee’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) provided EUR 98 million (USD 119.8 million) to implement the strategy. As part of the strategy, in 2015 the Ministry of Interior awarded HUF 82.5 million (USD 326,700) to the Budapest Methodological Centre of Social Policy and Its Institutions (BMSZKI) for a housing program for refugees.

Although in recent years the Fidesz-KDNP government has deliberately conflated asylum-seekers fleeing war zones with economic migrants and terrorists, it started distinguishing between asylum-seekers and other types of migrants after deputy undersecretary with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kristóf Altusz told the Times of Malta that in 2017 Hungary accepted 1,300 refugees.

Last week, in his regular Friday morning appearance on state-run radio, Orbán reassured listeners that the accepted refugees will never be Hungarian citizens because they will be sent home as soon as they no longer need protection. However, as UNHCR spokesperson Ernő Simon told HírTV, the Geneva Convention to which various government officials have been referring allows no such conduct. “Even if the immediate causes that forced someone to flee cease to exist […] repatriation can only happen on a voluntary basis,” Simon said.

Jobbik chairman and prime ministerial candidate Gábor Vona said at a Monday press conference: “Instead of [George] Soros-migrants, Orbán-migrants have been around for a long time.” According to Vona, the government has for years deceived the public regarding immigration. Therefore, along with the Hungarian Socialist Party, Jobbik was seeking to establish a special parliamentary commission of inquiry to reveal the background of the government’s immigration policy.