Saturday

23rd Feb 2019

Hungary refuses to take back migrants from Austria

  • Migrants waiting to cross to Austria from Slovenia after Hungary erected its border fence with Croatia (Photo: Eszter Zalan)

Hungary said Thursday (9 June) it would continue to refuse taking back migrants that Austria argues should be returned under EU rules.

“It’s clear Hungary cannot take back these migrants,” Hungary’s defence minister Istvan Simicsko told a press conference in Budapest alongside his Austrian counterpart Hans Peter Doskozil.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Hungary, pointing the finger at Greece, has argued that it cannot take back migrants that have crossed other EU member states before arriving to Hungary.

Under the so-called Dublin rules, which are being reviewed by the EU, the country where the migrants first enter the bloc is responsible for handling the asylum seeker’s case.

“In order to take them back they would have had to begin their journey here. But ... they crossed several countries before arriving in Hungary. They didn't suddenly get here by magic, they crossed several safe countries”, Simicsko said.

Most migrants arriving to Hungary had first travelled from Greece through Macedonia, Bulgaria (another EU country) and Serbia.

Several EU member states have suspended sending migrants back to Greece, where tens of thousands are stuck already.

Austria received 90,000 asylum requests last year, the second highest per person in the EU, and says several thousands came through Hungary, which should take them and process their claims.

Last autumn, at the peak of the migration crisis, Hungary sent busloads of migrants to Austria without registering them.

Austria has suspended sending people back to Hungary, when last September a court ruled in the case of an Afghan family, that they cannot be deported back to Hungary due to “inhumane conditions” there.

But that did not prevent Vienna from sending people back in the future, an Austrian interior ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck told AFP.

Doskozil said around 150 migrants still arrive to Austria every day from Hungary.

Transit

The issue underpins the spat between the neighbouring countries over the handling of the migrant crisis.

When Hungary built a fence last year along its Serbian and later, its Croatian border, Austria criticised Budapest for the move, only to erect its own “technical barriers” later along its Slovenian border.

Now Austria is considering sending policemen and soldiers to the Hungarian border fence, Austria daily Die Presse reported.

Since it has sealed its frontiers, Hungary has made crossing its border illegally a criminal offence, and it keeps newly arrived migrants in two makeshift transit zones along its Serbian border.

It is admitting about 20 cases per day, according to the UN’s refugee agency.

The UNHCR criticised the conditions in the transit zones earlier this week.

"We remain concerned about Hungary's restrictive approaches and the dire situation asylum-seekers face outside the transit zones," Samar Mazloum, head of UNHCR's local office said.

Currently, only 15-17 people are admitted daily at each zone, leaving hundreds "to suffer day and night without any proper support at the EU border,” he said, adding that the policy is helping people smugglers to exploit the situation.

The UN agency last week also suggested that the Hungarian policy was responsible for the drowning of a 22 year-old Syrian man in the Tisza river between Serbia and Hungary.

Asylum transfers to Hungary get the axe

Finland's highest court banned transfers of people seeking international protection to Hungary due to its poor and inhumane conditions.

Stakes grow in Hungary's migration referendum

Orban's referendum on migration in October is designed to alter EU policy and boost his popularity. But in the post-Brexit climate it could mark a bigger anti-EU swerve.

UN concerned by Hungary's migrant push-backs

UN refugee agency has voiced concerns over new Hungarian rules leading to push-backs of asylum seekers and urged authorities to investigate reports of violence.

News in Brief

  1. May to meet Tusk on Sunday at Arab summit
  2. Report: Russia offered Italy's Salvini €3m for EU election
  3. EU and US could 'quickly' clinch mini-trade pact
  4. Belgium to gather evidence on Syria 'foreign fighters'
  5. Dozens of Tory and Labour MPs threatening to quit over Brexit
  6. UK will struggle on free-trade deals, EU says
  7. Juncker pledges climate action alongside Swedish activist
  8. Swedbank brings in external help on money laundering revelations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Brexit and Orban in spotlight This WEEK
  2. Swedish activist urges EU to double climate goals
  3. EP budget chair seeks clarity on Saudi lobbying and College of Europe
  4. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  5. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  6. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  7. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  8. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us