Hungary’s “humane treatment” of the refugees

A couple of days ago Chancellor Angela Merkel, while explaining the reasons for her humane refugee policy in an interview with ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen), recalled that she couldn’t have left Greece in the lurch and that she certainly couldn’t have treated the refugees as badly as Hungary did. Her remarks reached the Hungarian media in record time.

One of ATV’s reporters decided to sound out “the people on the street.” Did the Hungarian government treat the refugees badly? I know that answers from randomly stopped pedestrians don’t tell us much about the public mood, but I suspect that their rejection of Merkel’s remarks most likely reflects the thinking of the majority of the population. At least seven people out of ten claimed that Hungary had done its very best in providing humanitarian assistance to the refugees.

And yet the non-government Hungarian media is full of horror stories about what’s going on along the Serb-Hungarian and Croat-Hungarian borders. As we just learned, 10,000 soldiers and policemen are chasing those refugees who breach the fence to eject them. Those who opt to follow the proper procedure wait for weeks on end on the other side of the fence. The process is painfully slow. Hungarian authorities admit only 15 people a day to the transit zones. The others–without food, shelter, or basic hygienic facilities–are staying on a narrow strip of land which is commonly referred to as “no man’s land,” a misnomer because it is still part of Hungary.

Just to give you a sense of the assistance given to these refugees, when Gábor Iványi, the Methodist minister known for his humanitarian work, arrived with a few portable toilets he was forbidden to set them up. The reason? They would obstruct the officers’ view of the terrain. Iványi received a more honest answer from Sándor Pintér, minister of the interior, who explained to him that “because they want to avoid permanent settling near our borders” he can allow Iványi to set up the toilets only farther away from Serbian territory. To do what with them?

Building the fence was a costly affair (perhaps as much as 100 billion forints was spent on it), but it didn’t secure the border. Just this year 17,000 refugees managed to get through the fence. I suspect by now they are safely out of Hungary. Of the 7,182 official arrivals between January 1 and May 7, 2016 only four people were accepted to settle in Hungary, 39 received refugee status, and 109 subsidiary protection. In brief, for those who play by the rules, the chance of receiving refugee status or permanent admission to Hungary is close to zero.

According to Eurostat, in 2015 Hungarian authorities granted asylum to 170 Syrians, 100 Afghans, and 75 Somalis. In stark contrast, 104,000 Syrians were able to settle in Germany. In light of these disparities, the European Commission decided to try a different system that would restrict the discriminatory treatment of refugees by certain countries. Hungary, I’m sure, was uppermost on the mind of First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Dimitris Avramopoulos, the commissioner responsible for migration policy.

Today’s announcement by the European Commission is bad news for the Hungarian government because “the Commission is proposing to replace the Asylum Procedures Directive with a Regulation establishing a fully harmonized common EU procedure for international protection to reduce differences in recognition rates from one Member State to the next, discourage secondary movements and ensure common effective procedural guarantees for asylum seekers.” The reform as spelled out by the European Commission seems quite thorough. And it will perhaps force Hungary to change its ways.

Just last week, on July 5, the Hungarian government introduced a new regulation to stop illegal entry into the country. If an illegal immigrant is caught within eight kilometers of the border, he can be sent back to the other side of the fence to wait to be admitted to the transit zone.

On the day the new regulation went into effect, 1,060 refugees attempted to get through the fence. Only 300 were successful, but even they were caught. Since then, another 600 migrants got through the fence while “the police and the soldiers prevented the entrance of 1,300.”

The legality of all this is questionable. In fact, on July 5 the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern that the law may result in law enforcement agencies not respecting the human rights of migrants and the violation of international law by expelling them by force without any legal procedure. Moreover, when one reads that policemen and soldiers “prevented the entrance,” one can’t help thinking that physical force might have been involved.

The fifteen lucky ones who got to the "transit zone"

The fifteen lucky ones who got to the “transit zone”

And indeed, Human Rights Watch just published a detailed description of alleged abuses at Röszke, at the Serb-Hungarian border. Here Lydia Gall, Balkans and Eastern Europe researcher for Human Rights Watch, found that “people who cross into Hungary without permission, including women and children, have been viciously beaten and forced back across the border.” Interviews were conducted with 41 asylum seekers and migrants, some of whom claimed that “officials often used spray that caused burning sensations to their eyes, set dogs on them, kicked and beat them with batons and fists, put plastic handcuffs on them and forced them through small openings in the razor wire fence, causing further injuries.” Some of the claims may be exaggerated, but I have no doubt that members of the police and the army have been told to use force if necessary to make sure that no one gets beyond that 8 km zone.

That some beating was going on is certain because the Human Rights Watch activists could see wounds on some of the migrants “consistent with marks caused by baton.” There is a telling exchange between a group of migrants and the officers. The refugees told the police that they want to stay in Hungary and that they love Hungary, “but the police just told them, ‘We love Hungary, not you.” Later they were taken to one of the gates: “they pushed us through and said ‘No Hungary, just Serbia.’”

The treatment of the few thousand refugees who are already in Hungary is horrendous. In the Körmend camp they live in tents that leak when it rains and that were unbearably hot during the last few weeks when a heat wave gripped Hungary. All three meals for the day are distributed at once, at noon, and as a result of the intense heat, dinner and the next day’s breakfast were normally spoiled before they could be eaten. Many of the refugees leave Hungary at the earliest opportunity to try their luck in Austria and beyond.

On June 23 Hungary unilaterally suspended the Dublin III Agreement, which obligated Hungary to take back refugees who had been originally registered in Hungary “for technical reasons.” János Perényi, Hungarian ambassador to Austria, and Zoltán Kovács, government spokesman, informed the Austrian ministry of interior of the government’s decision. Kovács insisted that “we all want to have a European solution, but we must defend Hungary’s interest and the Hungarian population.” Hungary can look after 2,500 refugees and, as it is, it has 3,000. “The boat is full,” Kovács told Die Presse.” Of course, it is full when the Hungarian government refuses to provide decent accommodations for the refugees and even refuses to accept international help. The intent seems to be to make the refugees’ lives so miserable that no one would ever opt to stay in Hungary permanently.

July 13, 2016
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Weaponized refugees meet weaponized Hungarian defense blocks.

A perfect storm. A unbearable challenge for the EU.


What weapons?


So why can’t the EU send a permanent team to the Serb-Hungarian border, as an on site resident watchdog stationed here to make sure that Hungary is abiding by the rules?


Hungary would need many other permanent teams to watch that EU rules are followed. The only way to make Hungary obey the rules is to put it under direct EU adminstration. I am afraid that the rules don’t allow that.


Refugees or economic migrants??


Dear Eva – thanks for referencing the HRW report. Just to clarify – the testimonies I took were prior to the new July 5 law. However, we will be looking into the impact of this law in terms of how its being enforced. In the broader asylum and migration context, it’s also worth noting that there were other pieces of legislation adopted/amended in the past few months that make life for asylum seekers miserable (cutting funds, health benefits, ability to earn nominal wage for work in reception facilities etc) and for those with international protection status, i.e. refugee and subsidiary status (reduced stay in reception facilities post recognition, no integration program, very limited social benefits and health benefits. All in all it aims to deter people from coming to Hungary and for those poor souls who received status here the current setup runs a high risk of resulting in forced destitution.

Miklós Haraszti
Congratulations to Lydia Gall and HRW for their coverage of Hungary’s indescribably inhumane sabotage of decency. Also to UN High Commissioner Zaid for his quick and thorough statements. And thanks of course to Eva for this summary. Eva says: “The reform as spelled out by the European Commission seems quite thorough. And it will perhaps force Hungary to change its ways.” I unfortunately doubt that. The plan was hardly out yesterday when Cabinet state secretary Csaba Dömötör already refused it in the harshest terms: “the EU wants to continue to force mandatory resettlement on member states”; “it is unacceptable for the Hungarians and Hungary”; “the plan shows why everybody should attend the October 2 quota referendum “. And the propaganda masters are right, the plan is flawed — because the EU still sticks to the working assumption that Hungary and other professional illiberal dissenters from humanity could be somehow enticed or cajoled back to normalcy. No way. Unless the world’s humanitarian community treats its enemies just as such, all its efforts will be consistently perverted into Orwellian tools of further lies, will serve as pretexts for renewed cruelty, and will be even laughed at when they are among themselves. MH
Miklós Haraszti

PS — before misunderstanding, let me translate my own words: ‘Hungary’ above should be read as ‘Viktor Orban’.

Live long and prosper
Live long and prosper

I fear for the poor refugees who do manage to enter Hungary, they face such entrenched xenophobia as to make their future very bleak. It is a sad situation that causes me to despair about the country’s prospects. With labour shortages presaging decline, a more open nation would at least be able to improve the lot of its own poor people (who, actually, will pay the pensions if not migrants?), instead this government will continue to peddle the bs so many want to hear, whilst maintaining the freedom of certain rich politicians to continue the ruination of their own country.


@Live long and prosper
Today 2:32 am

Who will pay the pensions, if not migrants? I think that a reality check is in orderhere.

The bulk of today’s refugees and would be economic immigrants from the South are mostly young Arab, Afghan and black African males in their teens and twenties who tend to be not just unskilled, but illiterate or barely literate even in their own languages.

Are you seriously suggesting that they would be paying the pensions of Europeans two, three decades down the track? You joking, I presume.

I think that a much more likely eventuality would be the formation of a huge underclass of largely welfare dependent unskilled labourers living in politically and socially explosive Muslim ghettoes sprinkled right across the larger cities of Europe.

Europe would be no more able to integrate and assimilate these multitudes of “New Europeans” than East Europeans their Gypsies.

Coping with these multitudes socially and economically would most likely be a huge and ever increasing net cost to European welfare budgets, and it is surely a triumph of hope over common sense to expect any kind of meaningful contribution to European pension funds from this current cohort of refugees and would be economic immigrants from the South.


Re: ‘Are you seriously suggesting that they would be paying the pensions of Europeans two, three decades down the track? You joking, I presume’

Perhaps. There’s a statistical probability! Who would have thought the hard-working Poles, Magyars or other immigrants now in Britain would be contributing toward the economic being of retired British? And what happens? Now with the advent of Brexit there were signs made noting ‘No Polish vermin’. And that after their contributions?? Europe is bent bad. She will only survive if she prepares the ground for demographic realities in the 21st. But from what we see in Britain it is really scary because it is a country that sees that reality and has dealt with it. Yet it cannot get away from that hate rhetoric directed toward certain groups. Tolerance looks a long time comng over there.


All things in perspective please?

Due to the open nature of our press, hate messages get large press coverage.

Theresa May has underlined that ALL workers here will be respected and ANY hate crime will be pursued .

The police figures for hate crime have doubled and it is despicable.

Many many British people have reassured foreign workers that they are very welcome here and will continue to be so.

Many are told how much they are appreciated and how, for example, our health service couldn’t function without them.

Many have gone out of their way to support a Polish coffee shop for example – very good coffee!

Every example of hate crime is by ill-educated small-brained people and shunned by most Brits.

The number is very small in a population of 66million – but too many however small.

A sense of proportion please.

At least it gets recorded and reported.


It is a very small minority spouting filth about Poles and others. Sadly these types of racist morons are present in most countries. Not usually supported by government policy though.

Heinrich Recht

BS. Poles belong in Poland. Also, in case you haven’t noticed Poles are Christian and white. Their children will more easily integrate into the majority… unless by that time the majority is Arab muslims. In that case, the Poles and the natives will form one large white underclass. I wonder how that new majority will address its minority problem.


Are you the new Fidesz troll here?
Poles belong in Poland.
So you would send home the more than half a million who work in the UK now?
And of course all those Hungarians who work in the DACH countries too ?

Hungarian people just hate refugees and the government propaganda works very well. (Actually ATV – as Hit Gyülekezete which owns it – itself is ardently anti-Islam and anti-refugee and pro-government in this respect.) I would even venture that most Hungarian people think that (A) Hungary treats them very well, probably way to well (“why spend any money on freeloaders?”) and (B) to the extent it does not they don’t even deserve any better. It would be the job of the left-wing to counter the propaganda but it is unwilling and unable to do so. Obviously the opposition can’t be seen as pro-refugee since that would mean (A) that it is in the minority again (everybody knows that most Hungarians hate Arab-looking people so those who support them in any way can only be a minority) and (B) it would be again seen as supporting foreigners and aliens instead of supporting indigenous Hungarians. The refugee/migrant is a check mate issue to the left-wing. The left-wing cannot do anything but if it doesn’t do or say anything it is becoming irrelevant. Moreover the immigrant issue is an existential issue as opposed to education or health care. Fear is one of the most… Read more »

Well said.


I’ve often written here that (a majority of …) Hungarians are 50 years behind the times – compared to Western Europe, what you’re telling us is that they are 100 years behind – and might never catch up …
So leave the EU, join Putin’s Eurasia – and good riddance!

Of course I know some Hungarians who think otherwise (my wife and her family included) but sometimes when talking to neighbours and others I fear that you’re right …
I’m so happy that in Germany e g the lunatic haters (like AfD, Pegida etc) are a small minority – it’s always been around 10% or less over the last 50 years …


Re: ‘The refugee/migrant is a check mate issue to the left wing’

Without a doubt the migrant issue is a moral one. It appears that the left with their stand then is probably throwing away a key component to be used in developing positive change in the country. And that is waking up the moral bent in the entire country. (Where are you Church but that’s another road). Frankly, it’s probably the highest one. And yet the left seemingly ignores facing the mating threats Fidesz throws at them. So ….why play the game at all? That is apparently shoveling s*** against the tide. Without a definite change in moral views the constant theme of Magyarorszag will sound like Dylan’s ‘you ain’t goin’ nowhere’.

Eva is of course correct when she writes, “The intent ( of bad Hungarian treatment ) seems to be to make the refugees’ lives so miserable that no one would ever opt to stay in Hungary permanently.” In psychology, aversives are unpleasant stimuli that induce changes in behavior through punishment; by applying an aversive immediately following a behavior, the likelihood of the behavior occurring in the future is reduced. Repeated psychiatric hospitalization are for example are discouraged by making the experience less than pleasant, but not inhuman. The idea that the experience of being in prison is designed as punishment, not really correction. The entire experience is designed to be an aversive experience. The consequences of that experience are more than likely psychologically destructive on those prisoners. But in general the idea that the conditions for prisoners need to be bad and close to inhuman is generally supported by populations worldwide. The idea that social welfare levels must be kept as close as possible to a subsistence levels because it is believed more generous benefits can discourage work very commonly discussed among economists. There are actually numerous academic papers that discuss this issue. In the US Army there has been… Read more »

Thanks again, Istvan, for your valuable insights!

The way “out of the ordinary” people are treated is horrendous – yours is just another example of what can and does go wrong!

Where is humanity when we need it?


“On June 23 Hungary unilaterally suspended the Dublin III Agreement”

Of course that was on 23 June 2015, not this year. So this story is more than 1 year old. Not to mention they didn’t actually suspend the agreement after all.


Yes, Tyrker!
If we didn’t have you and the large potatoes – then we’d have to eat the small ones! 😉

Any comment on the way refugees are treated in Hungary? You like that very much probably, maybe even get aroused?

You should be ashamed of yourself, your government and your compatriots – assuming that you’re Hungarian …


Re: Magyarorszag’s treatment of migrants etc etc

Like a child that constantly suffered constant stinging blows and bashes to its person and existence the country appears to do what has been done disgracefully to the smashed child. We can see the destruction and disrespect continues. Memories embedded seem to be instinctually exploding onto the kulfoldis. And their children are pretty much destined now to join the ranks of those who will hate. ‘Punch and dump’ may work in the interim but long term it’s a vapid and ignorant strategy. Even good boxers can’t go for infinite rounds and the country already looks exhausted.


London Calling!

Since the latest parliamentary legislation passed recently the police have been ruthlessly chasing refugees who have got as far as “8kms inside Hungary” but in reality any caught within 25kms are forced back to the Serbian camps in the intense heat one moment and intense thunderstorms the next.

It’s been all over the news here – on radio 4 news bulletins and The World Service of the BBC every hour – despite the intense coverage of things political over you-know-what.

The MSF have been collecting evidence to show the brutal force being used as they try and treat the vicious wounds from the illegally-used razor wire which should only be used 2 metres out of reach, but in fact is illegally positioned at the bottom of the fence.

Just two stand pipes for water for 850 camped in the sweltering heat – and just 2 x 15 let through both gates daily.

Nick Thorpe’s reports have just been factual – but the facts don’t whisper, they shout.

You may be able to access this – but on the other hand, you may not.

As usual lying toad Zoltan Kovács’ is in the vanguard of lying toadum.


Hillary, billary….pufffft! Trump 43% — Hillary 37%

Reality Check

Single polls mean nothing. You need to watch the tracking polls. Every once in a while an individual poll comes out that shows Trump ahead, but Hillary has never been behind Trump in tracking polls. I expect there will be a temporary loss of support after the email decision came out, but expect a bounce in the next set of polls after Sander’s endorsement.

Also consider that you are reporting on a Rasmussen poll – google them. One of the poorest performing pollsters out there and some evidence that they have a conservative bias.


Trump is getting ahead in the swing states incl. Ohio and Florida and Pennsylvania, that’s the thing. He has the momentum. This could even be a landslide victory for Trump and the Republicans.

The entire post-New Deal “consensus” is now hanging by a thread. The long, hard, disciplined work of the Republicans is bearing fruit.

People are curious about Trump and find Hillary boring. Trump offers a lot of things, Hillary doesn’t offer anything. That won’t do this time.

Reality Check

What momentum? His numbers came down starting in December and have been flat since April. He is getting a temporary bounce from all the coverage of the email issue. The current polls that show him tied (given margin of error) in some swing states is part of that ephemeral bounce.

Here is some of what Trump offers.

Reality Check

And then there is this:

But don’t let reality get in the way of your Trumphalism.


@ Reality Check

re: Trumphalism

You mistook me: I am at the other end of being a Trump
supporter. Give me Sanders, please; or a Biden/Sanders ticket will do.

But I can see many hating Hillary–a shrieking mass of
raw ambition. I don’t remember her doing one significant thing as Secretary of State (beside the moronic ‘reset button’); and that mealy-mouthed approach to the Russkies may well be responsible for their indiscriminate adventurism around the globe now.


And nor for the good news …

Nate Silver’s electoral map prediction is the stuff of nightmares for the GOP.

The poll-whisperer shared a map, based on current polling, of a general election held today between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and—spoiler!—it’s not close.
Never mind key swing states like Ohio, Virginia, and Florida. The Republicans are in jeopardy of losing states like North Carolina, Arizona, and even Georgia if these numbers hold. All told, the margin of victory could exceed that of President Obama’s sweeping 2008 win over John McCain.…nightmares-gop


@wolfi: Nate Silver has a daily updated blog too. That’s more up to date than any TNR article. This is his most recent post (see link below). Trump’s odds of becoming the potus today is the highest since Silver began tracking the data. In two days his odds increased by 50% (from 22 to 33%). Especially marked was Trump’s improvement in the all important battle ground states of Ohio and Florida. There is effectively no way to win the presidency if a candidate loses both. Also, the Republican party establishment seems to be convinced by Trump. If someone can be so popular within a few months essentially on a shoestring budget than who are they to stop him?


The problem with your narrative is that Trump has already been “more popular” than this, and fell and fell in the polls. He’s up a little bit now, but still has just a 33% chance of winning according to the analysis you cite.
And what is to stop him from falling and falling again?
I suggest you look at the demographics of his supporters: Overwhelmingly white and male. Taking just that demographic is not enough to win, not even Ohio and Florida.


If you’re not a Trumphalist, why do you cite only – and ever – the very rare poll that is favorable to Trump?

You hate Clinton, that is clear.

Did you miss the news that Bernie has given up, and is now campaigning for Clinton to beat Trump?

How are your visions going? A few weeks ago you shared a particularly nutty one about the Democratic convention.


Petofi Sec Clinton was required to implement President Obama’s plan to “reset” the relationship with Russia he began with back in 2010. By 2014, President Obama had abandoned any hope of a good relationship with Putin following Russian actions in the Ukraine.

Here is what the NY Times reports about those years of the Obama Presidency: “In the administration’s first high-level meeting on Russia in February 2009, aides to Obama proposed that the United States make some symbolic concessions to Russia as a gesture of its good will in resetting the relationship. Clinton, the last to speak, brusquely rejected the idea, saying, I’m not giving up anything for nothing. Her hardheadedness made an impression on Robert Gates, the defense secretary and George W. Bush holdover who was wary of a changed Russia. He decided there and then that she was someone he could do business with. ” see

So on the relationship with Russia as far as I can tell Sec Clinton has made a good read on Putin. She is not perfect, but on the Russian question she seems to have a better grasp of diplomacy than President Obama has had.

Reality Check

petofi, that comment was for trww,

I would be very surprised if you supported Trump.


Re: ‘Clinton ….not perfect’

Cough cough. You can say that again. Let’s hope if she becomes POTUS that she has learned something from the bung up job in Libya. Not a shining time on her watch. Thus I watch carefully those two where one of that duo will be POTUS.

Each seem to come with dirty baggage and an overall distaste regardless of whether some ‘like’ them. And they are supposedly the best that can be offered in these ‘dangerous’ times. It will be intriguing well at least for me if Trumpo or Hilly can walk that narrow plank of playing pragmatic politics and be outstanding leaders and statespersons of their country. The times really kind of demand it.

Who will be up to that task?? I dont think we can know that until they take that seat in the White House.. The electorate has to go really only on a somewhat developed ‘hunch’ and taking in their charisma. Hope we pick right. If we don’t we’re up the creek with no paddle.

Wrfree the killing of the staff in Libya was a very complex issue. To send in a Delta Force team for extraction was no guarantee they would have come out alive. It is completely possible that even if the State Department increased the Marine guards prior to the attack the Ambassador still would have been killed. But what is generally not know is that following the attack on the weekend of June 14, 2014, U.S. Army special operations forces, in coordination with the FBI, captured Khattala the terrorist responsible for organizing the murder in Libya. So our revenge was extracted on the terrorists to be sure. What is also not publicly discussed much is the fact that prior to the attack the CIA was monitoring Ansar al-Sharia and suspected members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, as well as attempting to define the leadership and loyalty of the various militias present and their interaction with the Salafi elements of Libyan society. By the time of the attack, dozens of CIA operatives were on the ground in Benghazi. In addition, it has been reported that in the summer of 2012, American Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) missions had begun to target… Read more »

Istvan… I fully agree with you on ‘complexities’ in dealing with terrorism and as well as upholding law in democratic states. At times perception can be more effective in affecting opinion than realities. It was terrible that we lost an ambassador and the embassy. I do not like the feeling.

To note something, like you in military affairs , I am plugged into the hidden realities of law enforcement today in our country. I too have that close view of the ‘difficulties’ inherent in the practice and respect of it.
I guess that’s why I treasure a quote (given to me by one of my own who goes into ‘battle’ every day ) from Tacitus who grieved greatly on the decay of those who ruled the Empire after Augustus. After all he saw he came to the conclusion that ‘ in valor there is hope’. As all those who fight terrorism and uphold law exemplify in our tenuous and dangerous world today. And koszonom szepen Istvan for your service.

Reality Check
Heinrich Recht

They need a double fence. In East Germany, a number of species survived in the zone between the fencelines. It was an environmental wonderland.

Reality Check

Razor wire is one problem and a lack of wildlife passages is another. Double fence alone is no good if there is no movement between the two sides of the fence.


Hungary’s Fidesz-appointed “Constitutional Court”:

Demonstration at the prime minister’s house is not permitted since it might disturb him.

Pro-Nazi demonstration should be allowed although it might (it will) disturb Jews, for instance.


The problem is that EU has rules, but nobody helps Hungary with the migrants. And if terrorist cross the border again, who will be blamed for???

Isn’t that a little suspicious that most of the migrants are males, between the ages of 18-50, who really should fight for their homeland??? Where are the women and small children??? Only few percentage of them are fleeing…

What about the migrants who are already in Europe? Raping women, and unable to fit into the European society!!!

The main problem is that our culture and their culture are very far from each other, and to tell the truth most of the migrants do not want to be fit in at all…

What about those who were thorwing the fresh bottled water away, when soldiers/policemen wanted to give them some refreshments??

The coin has two sides… What media shows us most of the time is fake, unreal, or magnified….

So Hungary would need some help from the EU to be able to check migrants faster…

Definitely something is wrong with this world and istead of pointing at each other, we should join our forces to stop wars, terrorists and terrorist for ever…


Another troll dishing out old fake horror stories …