UNHCR to EU: do not send asylum-seekers to Hungary

April 11, 2017

The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, has called for the temporary suspension of transfers of asylum-seekers from other EU member states to Hungary under Dublin regulations, citing “the worsening situation of asylum-seekers in Hungary.”

According to Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, conditions for asylum-seekers in the country were already a concern for the UNHCR before new asylum rules went into effect in Hungary on March 28. The organization said the latest rules “have resulted in effectively denying access to territory and asylum.”

Grandi urged other European countries not to send refugees to Hungary “until the Hungarian authorities bring their practices and policies in line with European and international law,” adding that “urgent measures are needed to improve access to asylum in Hungary.”

According to Dublin regulations, the EU country first entered by a refugee is required to process that refugee’s asylum request. Many refugees, passing through the so-called Balkan Route via Greece, Macedonia and Serbia into Hungary, are considered to have first entered the EU through Hungary, after Greece was excluded from being able to accept returned asylum-seekers by a 2011 European Court of Human Rights decision.

But Hungary has contested EU requirements to accept the return of asylum-seekers, and has refused to comply with international laws prohibiting the expulsion of refugees. The new asylum rules stipulate that asylum-seekers may be detained anywhere in the country and escorted across the southern border fence. Those with active asylum applications are confined to transit zones for the duration of its processing and housed in shipping containers.

The UNHCR reports that of 7 April, there were 110 people, including four unaccompanied children and children with their families, held in Hungary’s transit zones.

The refugee agency also raised concern over widespread reports of police abuse of refugees at Hungary’s southern border.

“While acknowledging the authorities’ recent efforts to address police violence, we remain very concerned about highly disturbing reports of serious incidents of ill-treatment and violence against people crossing the border into Hungary, including by State agents,” Grandi said. “These unacceptable practices must be brought to an end and I urge the Hungarian authorities to further investigate any allegation of abuse and violence.”