Hungary is to close all but two migrant centres, reducing capacity at a time where most European nations are struggling to keep up with demand.
Working to fulfil the government’s promises to cut space and subsidies offered to migrants, the Hungarian government is now to close four of the six national centres and camps, reports Politico. The two remaining facilities at Szentgotthárd and Körmend sit in the West on the country in townships directly abutting the Austrian border, placed for easy deportation.
The announcement was made last week by senior government member of parliament Lajos Kosa, who said the country no longer needed that many asylum centres as so few migrants sought refuge in the country, with the vast majority heading north for the big welfare states of Germany and Sweden. The two remaining centres will not be plush accommodation facilities like those seen in Northern Europe, but instead are so-called ‘tent cities’.
Although anti-migrant policies are broadly very popular in Hungary, which is expected to vote on and pass a referendum rejecting the EU’s migrant plan later this year, the plan has been criticised by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. Set up during the Cold War to highlight human rights abuses behind the Iron Curtain, the Hungarian group now acts as a fierce left-wing critic of Hungary’s government.
Marta Pardavi, co-chair of the committee said just two camps wouldn’t be enough for the migrants coming to Hungary, telling press: “The 600, 700 places will surely not be enough to accommodate everyone in the Hungarian asylum system…Just in the open reception centres there were about 1,200 people last week”.
Helsinki committees have struggled to attract funding since 2008, when a case of embezzlement undermined the reputation of the organisation. In early 2015 a government parliamentarian accused the Hungary branch of being a “bogus civil organisation”, taking money from American pro-mass migration billionaire funder George Soros — a statement that led to a successful libel case.
Although the government spokesman was forced to issue a letter of apology, the suggestion hasn’t gone away. A Christian Democrat member of parliament repeated the accusations months after the case ending. Istvan Hollik said of the body they would “do everything to allow an unlimited number of immigrants to enter the country”.
The move to close the migrant camps follows an announcement earlier this month that Hungary was to cut subsidies and assistance to migrants. Maximum space available for refugees would no longer be greater than that afforded to prisoners, ans stays at migrant camps would be cut from a maximum of two months to just one.