Hungarian government’s illegal anti-refugee policies


This video says about itself:

Hungary’s 100,000 Jews alarmed at racism

22 March 2013

Anti-semitism is being felt in Hungary almost 70 years after half a million Jews were killed in the country during the Holocaust.

Community leaders feel threatened following recent comments made by members of the right-wing Jobbik party, and as a football match last year saw hooligans shout slurs at Israeli players.

Despite measures to control racism, such as ordering the Hungarian national football team to play its World Cup qualifier against Romania on Friday night (March 22) behind closed doors, concerns are growing with reports of some Jews choosing to migrate to other European countries.

Al Jazeera’s Tim Friend reports from Budapest.

By Márta Pardavi in Hugary, on 31 August 2016:

How Hungary Systematically Violates European Norms On Refugee Protection

In 2015, Hungary became one of the main entry points to the European Union for migrants and refugees. The police registered 400,000 irregular migrants and more than 177,000 of these applied for asylum. With at most 4,000 people with international protection status living in Hungary and one of the lowest rates of immigrant populations in Europe (1.4%), most people were faced with an unknown phenomenon, one that had hardly featured in Hungarian media or on political agendas before.

Confronted with a variety of very uncomfortable domestic political issues and the challenges posed by the number of arrivals, the government suddenly elevated migration to the number 1 topic on the political agenda. Right after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris in January 2015, it announced that migration posed a dangerous threat, from which Hungary and Europe must be protected. Moreover, it put the blame on “Brussels”, primarily the European Commission, for failing to keep refugees and migrants out of Europe.

In May 2015, the government launched a “National Consultation on Immigration and Terrorism”, in which 8 million Hungarian adults were asked to respond to a set of biased questions that portrayed migrants as abusers of European welfare systems and economic opportunities: ‘a new type of threat that we must stop in its tracks’. The consultation was accompanied by a nationwide billboard campaign, which featured xenophobic messages in Hungarian.

Over the summer, thousands of refugees arrived across the Serbian border each day, only to be met with a government-induced humanitarian crisis in Hungary. To everyone’s surprise, informal groups sprouted up instantly and hundreds of ordinary Hungarian citizens in towns all over the country spent their summer helping refugees. Thousands of Hungarians donated clothing, food and money to help where the state refused to do its part.

Later on, the legal and practical framework of refugee protection in Hungary was practically dismantled. The combined and intended effect of these steps was to deter and limit people who need international protection from accessing it in Hungary, by:

  • rejecting all asylum applications from people who had entered Hungary from Serbia, which was declared a safe third country, without a real inquiry into the reasons why Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and others had to flee their countries,
  • introducing new and unfair procedural rules that result in genuine refugees being denied access to a proper asylum procedure and to the possibility of finding protection,
  • sealing the borders with Serbia and Croatia with razor-wire fences,
  • criminalising the crossing of the border fence and trying migrants in expedited criminal trials lacking many important due process guarantees,
  • reducing the Hungarian reception system’s capacity to offer shelter to asylum-seekers by closing the largest camp and instead opening smaller, temporary tent camps,
  • opening four small ‘transit zones’ on the southern border where people who wish to seek asylum in Hungary should apply and be registered, but not all would be let in the country.

Although the government is determined to keep migrants and refugees away from Hungary, wars and instability have not ended and people keep on coming via the Balkan route, though in lesser numbers than in 2015.

Since early spring, would-be asylum-seekers have to wait for long periods in front of two of the transit zones at the Serbian border to be allowed to enter and be registered as an asylum applicant in Hungary. At first, their number was in the dozens every day, but for many months now, it is hundreds of people waiting, many children and families among them. The Hungarian immigration office only lets in 30 people each day, giving priority to vulnerable families. The conditions are dire, because the Hungarian authorities provide only a water faucet and one food package each day. Despite the fact that the people wait on Hungarian land within arm’s reach of the authorities, it is UNHCR and NGOs and volunteer groups who struggle to meet all other needs: medical assistance, clothing, shelter, hot meals, information.

Since January 2016, about 252 persons have been granted protection status in Hungary (in 2015: 508). On 1 June 2016, however, state support for refugee integration was nearly eliminated, as all financial benefits were cut and access to state health care curbed. This leaves recognised refugees and persons with subsidiary protection (who dont qualify as refugees according to the Geneva Convention but who would face serious harm if they return to the country of origin) at the risk of homelessness and destitution 30 days after they are given permission to stay. It is now only NGOs that offer integration services specifically for refugees, the funding of which comes from the EU’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. Essentially, the EU and UNHCR funds are what keep the limited integration services for refugees above water in Hungary.

In recent months, UNHCR, Human Rights Watch and Hungarian NGOs and volunteers have been documenting and reporting about frequent cases of severe ill-treatment of migrants at the border. The police have refused to thoroughly investigate these reports.

Moreover, since July 5, the police can push back migrants who are apprehended within 8 km inside Hungary of the border fence to the other side of it, without any substantive procedure. People are expected to join the many hundreds waiting at the transit zones for managed entry, amid degrading conditions.

Not surprisingly, most asylum-seekers abandon their asylum claims within a few days after having finally arrived at an open centre and travel on further west, via Austria. The Hungarian government acquiesces in this as becoming more of a destination country for refugees is exactly what it does not want.

With a national referendum on “mandatory migrant quotas” set for October 2, the hate campaign against migrants and the EU is at full trottle again. Those NGOs that speak out in favour of offering protection to refugees, for solidarity with other countries and for trying to find solutions through European cooperation are few and far between and they face strong opposition. In this precarious landscape, getting European institutions and civil society to show solidarity with the safekeepers of human rights and refugee protection would be all the more important.

Danish MPs banned from Australian refugee prison camp


This video says about itself:

Violence and sexual abuse revealed in Nauru files

9 August 2016

The Guardian has released 2000 incident reports from Australia’s Nauru detention camp which highlight suicide attempts, assaults and sexual abuse. Guardian reporter Paul Farrell joins Checkpoint.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Danes halt Pacific trip after MP snub

Wednesday 31st August 2016

DENMARK: A delegation of Danish MPs cancelled a visit to Australia’s refugee detention camp on the Pacific island of Nauru yesterday after two leftwingers were denied entry.

Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen of the Red-Green Alliance and Jacob Mark of the Socialist People’s Party had both criticised Canberra’s draconian refugee policy.

The delegation, including anti-immigration Danish People’s Party MPs, cancelled the trip over the snub.

Only 1,868 refugees from war-ravished Syria and Iraq have been brought to Australia since the Liberal-National government promised, nearly a year ago, to settle 12,000 people. With 4.8 million Syrian refugees now living in camps across Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, this is a contemptible response. For all the government’s claims to be fighting in Iraq and Syria for humanitarian motives—to protect the people of the Middle East from the atrocities of ISIS—its reaction to the fate of those displaced by the war underscores its true attitude toward the millions of victims of the predatory US-led war in Iraq and Syria: here.

European Union propaganda and Lesbos refugees reality


This video about Iraq says about itself:

Mosul Offensive Will Create More Refugees, Displacement, and Humanitarian Disaster

11 July 2016

Institute for Policy Studies Fellow Phyllis Bennis says the fightback against ISIS requires the abandonment of more military force, and the pursuit of diplomacy with Russia and Iran.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Things go well on Lesbos, says Brussels. Until you start looking there yourself

Today, 12:14

In spite of Europe we still exist.” That’s the predominant feeling on Lesbos, the Greek island that was flooded last year by boat people. 600,000 of the 1 million refugees who then reached Greece arrived on the island off the Turkish coast.

After the EU-Turkey deal in March this year, the number of refugee dinghies dropped drastically. But the people are still afraid, noted EU correspondent Arjan Noorlander ….

Distressing situation

Noorlander decided to look for himself what has become of all the plans and optimistic words he heard in Brussels in recent months. He was disappointed drastically at what the EU is doing to help the refugees and the people of Lesbos. “It’s a very different situation than I expected after following the political discussions in Brussels. From these you get the idea that they really are tackling problems. That idea proves to be untrue here. It is distressing.”

He is shocked by the extent of the problem. What struck Noorlander most was a huge pile of life jackets at a local landfill. “Such a stack as a symbol of all those hundreds of thousands of boat people hurts one pretty hard inside. Then it becomes from a problem that you know from TV or from the political corridors suddenly a real problem of real people.”

“Europe has done preciously little for Lesbos,” he says. “You can see that the refugees all these months anyway were mostly helped by volunteers. In the official camps you see United Nations stickers everywhere, because the United Nations [contrary to the EU] is present.”

Brussels was said they would help the Greeks with the reception and even take over refugees. All that does not happen, Noorlander notes. People are thereby stuck on the islands, where it starts to get more crowded.

The facilities are in reasonable order, but because of the bigger crowds the situation is not improving. “The atmosphere in the camps is tense. There has to be done little before things may get out of hand.”

According to official figures, 58,000 refugees now reside in Greece. 11,000 of them are on the Aegean islands Lesbos, Chios and Samos.

Last week fourteen migrants from Lesbos were returned to Turkey: eight Syrians, four Pakistanis and two Algerians. …

Most poignant is the situation around the so-called emergency procedure. Part of the agreement was that newly arrived refugees would get clarity within 48 hours about their applications for asylum. …

Nothing like that happened, says Noorlander. “I have spoken to people in the camps who have been there for months and have just been told they will have to wait until December for their first asylum interview.” …

Why the difference between the Brussels [European Union] reality and the actual situation in Greece? The problem, according to Noorlander, is that the Brussels politicians and diplomats do not themselves come to see how things are in Lesbos.

Divisions rise inside EU at summit between Germany, France and Italy: here.

Norwegian anti-refugee fence at Russian border: here.

Persecution of Rohingyas in Myanmar


This video saus about itself:

20 August 2016

Who are the Rohingya refugees?

They are people with no home or citizenship. While the Myanmar government dispute the Rohingya people’s status as Burmese citizens, it’s indisputable that Rohingya people have been living in Burma for generations.

Refugees in Greece in trouble


This video says about itself:

‘Nobody is illegal’: Thousands protest in Europe against EU-Turkey refugee deal

17 March 2016

Thousands of people have demonstrated in Spain and other countries in protest against the draft agreement between Brussels and Ankara which could see the bulk of ‘illegal’ immigrants stuck in the EU sent back to Turkey.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Aegean island camps in crisis as refugee numbers mount

Thursday 18th August 2016

SAVE the Children warned yesterday that refugees in Greek island camps face terrible conditions as new arrivals increase sharply.

The British charity said more than 10,300 came ashore in the first two weeks of August, two-and-a-half times the figure for the same period in July.

Greece director Katie Dimmer said: “We’re starting to see scenes reminiscent of last summer, except, this time, most asylum-seekers are unable to continue their journeys and are trapped on the islands in overcrowded facilities and under the blazing sun.

“Mothers with small babies are being forced to sleep on the ground in makeshift tents. Children and breastfeeding women are suffering from dehydration.”

Meanwhile, the Greek coast guard was searching for a people-trafficking boat with 53 passengers that reported engine trouble in the eastern Aegean, hours after rescuing 59 refugees from a dinghy in rough weather north of Kos.

Refugee Olympic athletes honoured with mural


This video from Brazil says about itself:

Rio 2016: Refugee athletes honoured with mural

17 August 2016

Refugees competing at the Olympic Games have been honoured with a gigantic mural on Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Boulevard.

Two street artists painted the 10 athletes in the refugee team. This is the first time a refugee team has been represented at the Games.

This video from Brazil says about itself:

Refugees living in Brazil cheer fellow refugees in Olympics

14 August 2016

Several members of the Congolese refugee community in Rio gathered to watch their compatriots compete in the Olympics as part of the first ever refugee team to take part in the games. The fans watched Popole Misenga and Yolande Mabika in jubilation as they competed in judo. The refugees community broke into song and dance as their compatriots took to the stage.

The Arab world, from Bush’s Iraq war to ISIS


This video from the USA says about itself:

“Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart“: NYT Mag Examines Region Since 2003 U.S. Invasion

12 August 2016

As conflicts from Iraq to Syria have forced a record 60 million people around the world to flee their homes and become refugees, we speak with Scott Anderson about his in-depth new report, “Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart.”

Occupying the entire print edition of this week’s New York Times Magazine, it examines what has happened in the region in the past 13 years since the the U.S. invaded Iraq through the eyes of six characters in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Anderson is also author of the book, “Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East.”

Bush's mission accomplished in Iraq, cartoon

Last week, The New York Times Magazine devoted an entire issue to one story: Scott Anderson’s account of how the world has changed since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Anderson’s narrative follows six characters from 1972 until the present: here.