Religious argument erupts into violence at overcrowded refugee camp

June 30, 2015

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Hungary’s state media reported yesterday that asylum seekers housed in a refugee camp just outside Debrecen attacked cars on a road nearby. The conflict seems to be connected to the cramped conditions of the camp and hostility amongst its residents.

“On Monday afternoon, around 100 [refugee camp residents] armed with sticks attacked drivers on the number 471 road next to the camp,” state news agency MTI reported.

The camp, which can technically only provide adequate housing for 800 people, currently shelters 1,600 asylum seekers.

MTI reported that riot police had been dispatched to monitor the asylum seekers, and used tear gas to restore order.

At 5pm the police released a statement in which they said that at around 2:20pm two refugees got into a scuffle regarding differing religious views inside Debrecen’s Immigration and Citizenship Agency office. The conflict apparently became more and more heated, one thing led to another, and then several hundred asylum seekers got involved.

The police immediately reacted by cordoning off the area and firing tear gas at the squabbling asylum seekers.

One hour later, at 6pm, the police released another statement informing the public that one police officer had been injured by a rock thrown at him. The police officer did not sustain severe injuries and was treated at the scene.

The police have placed the refugee camp under lock-down but will continue to show a strong law enforcement presence in the camp itself and surrounding area.

Earlier, Gábor Gyulai of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee told Hungarian news site 444.hu that the Debrecen refugee camp can only hold 800 people but is currently housing 1,600.

The camp is no longer able to provide even the most basic necessities, he said. It is in extremely poor condition and is simply incapable of providing adequate services to its residents.

“Three-quarters of the asylum seekers come from conflict or terror zones,” Gyulai said. “We are talking about people who have been seriously traumatized. They have lost their families, their homes collapsed on top of them. Many of them have spent weeks being transported by human traffickers in cargo containers with no toilet, water or food. The psychological trauma many of these refugees have endured is not made any better by being locked up and idleness.”

Referenced in this article:

Rohamrendőrök vették körbe a debreceni menekülttábort, 444.hu; 30 June 2015.