The Hungarian Case



The situation at the Serbian-Hungarian border is distinguished by the effective closure of the border through the erection of a 4 m tall and 175 km long fence. Since 15th September 2015, when a “state of emergency with relation to immigration” was declared, up to 10.000 police officers and soldiers are guarding the new border fence [1]. Recently, this status was extended. Additionally, the border was strengthened by barbed or electric wire and motion sensors, patrolled by helicopters and drones and extended by an 8km ‘transitzone’ on the Hungarian side. On 7th March 2017, a new law was adopted which “allows” the authorities to push-back all people inside this area back to Serbia, “legalizes” detentions within the whole Hungarian state and promotes the building of transit-camps on the Serbian side of the border. Before being allowed to enter Hungarian territory, people on the move have to wait in these camps to be granted acceptance. The number of people allowed to enter Hungary in this way is limited to 10 people per day (more information see: [2]) – as UNHCR data shows, in reality 5 person per week get this possibility [3], leading to waiting periods of up to one year. Additional Hungarian authorities stopped admission of asylum-seekers from Serbia into their so-called “transit zones” in July 2018.

Therefore, more and more people see themselves forced to live in inhumane conditions in informal shelters without electricity, hygienic facilities or proper access to drinking water and to take dangerous alternative routes. Worse, many of the people we have been working with told us about degradations suffered from the hands of border guards: they were forced to undress themselves, were chained naked on the ground after being poured over with water, were beaten up with sticks, bitten by dogs or sprayed with pepper spray and had to walk back to the border, sometimes 30 km, without warm clothes. Mobile phones are destroyed in most occasions and money is taken away. These procedures are used without difference against minors, whereby the injured are mostly young men and boys aged between 15 and 25 years of age [4]. “They treat us like animals“ one of them stated after returning from the border.

  1.  Amnesty International (19.02.2017): Amnesty Report – Ungarn 2017; flchtlingeundmigranten
  2. Since new regulations were introduced by Hungarian authorities in January 2017, the daily quota for admission to enter Hungary has been reduced to only ten persons per day. For this purpose they have to register for the unofficial “list” of the Commissariat for Refugees of the Republic of Serbia (CRS), which is forwarding it to the responsible authorities in Hungary.
    see: Momir Turudić [11.12.2017];
  3. UNHCR (30.09.2018): Serbia-Inter-Agency Operational Update-July-September 2018;
  4. Médecins sans frontières (03.10.2017): GAMES OF VIOLENCE, unaccompanied children and young people repeatedly abused by EU member state border authorities;