Hungary plans to cut subsidies, space for refugees

Hungarian government publishes draft legislation to cut subsidies, space for refugees in detention centres

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Refugees make their way after crossing the border at Zakany, Hungary October 16, 2015.

Hungary plans to reduce the space available in detention centres and eliminate subsidies for refugees in a move that a human rights body says is aimed at forcing refugees to leave the country.

Starting April 1 those who were granted some kind of protection or asylum will be allowed to stay in a camp for only one month, instead of two months as it is currently allowed, according to draft legislation published by the government on Monday.

The maximum space available in holding centres should be identical to that prescribed in prisons, said the decree.

Subsidies will be cut, too, such as funds aimed at supporting education, for those who receive protection.

The government, which has imposed hardline policies throughout Europe's refugee crisis, to prevent economic refugees seeking asylum in Hungary in the hope for a better life.

"The main goal of the tightening is to reduce social subsidies for asylum seekers and those who received international protection," the government said.

Hungarian police are silhouetted against the sky as they watch refugess waiting to cross the border at Botovo, Croatia October 16, 2015.

Last year, only 508 asylum seekers received some kind of protection in Hungary, including asylum, according to data from the immigration office.

In 2015, at least 190,000 refugees entered Hungary from Serbia, escaping conflict zones in the Middle east and Africa.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing government erected a steel fence on Hungary's southern border to keep the refugees out and introduced tough legislation to punish those who tried to cross into Hungary illegally.

Since October, when Hungary sealed off its border with Croatia and pushed the refugee route west to Slovenia, almost 500,000 refugees passed Slovenia on their way to Austria and other Western European countries, mainly Germany.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a non-governmental human rights watchdog organisation, said the new rules would effectively stop the influx of refugees in Hungary and push them to other countries.

Co-chair for the Helsinki Committee Marta Pardavi said that the legislation means that there is no integration help from the state in Hungary and the measure could also serve as a deterrent for people coming to Hungary.

"If these people don't receive any help beyond getting some status (of protection) they ... can only trust the system helping the homeless," she added.

TRTWorld and agencies