Hungary denying food to asylum seekers

April, 2019

Hungarian authorities are systematically denying food to failed asylum seekers detained in the country’s border transit zones, say rights activists.

The policy, whereby adults whose asylum claims have been rejected are denied food, was described as “an unprecedented human rights violation in 21st-century Europe” by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights organisation working to offer legal support to those in the transit zones.

It may amount to “inhuman treatment and even to torture” under international human rights law, said the organisation in a statement released this week. It documented eight cases involving 13 people this year when the Hungarian authorities had begun providing food to people only after the European court of human rights had intervened. Some went without food for up to five days before the rulings were granted.

Orbán’s spokesman, Zoltán Kovács, dismissed criticism of the policy of withholding food, saying the authorities provided “everything for people who have a legal right to stay in the transit zone”, but added that food would not be provided for those who had been tested and found to be ineligible. “It’s a businesslike approach. When business is finished, there’s nothing we can do,” he said.

Kovács said the government still provided asylum or the right to stay for people who come with “not only a story but real proof” their lives were in danger. Last year, Hungarian authorities accepted 349 applications made through the transit zone, mainly from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, though it is not clear how many of these came before the July ruling on safe countries.

Kovács said when people’s asylum claims were rejected they were free to leave the transit zone and return to Serbia. “There is no free meal for anyone,” he said in an interview last year.

Source: The Guardian