• Hungary welcomes those fleeing Ukraine but not ’illegal migrants’

    Hungary has taken in the second-largest number of people fleeing Ukraine behind Poland. But the government, notorious for its strict anti-immigration laws, has made it clear that hospitality would only be extended to those “legally staying on the territory of Ukraine”.

    After the Russian invasion of Ukraine began a week ago (February 24), Hungary opened its borders to those fleeing the raging conflict and has reportedly already taken in more than 130,000 refugees from Ukraine.

    “We’re letting everyone in,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last week near the Hungarian-Ukrainian border, addressing people fleeing Ukraine.

    “All border crossing points of ours are open, fully operational 24 hours a day,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday (March 2). “We let everybody come in, including the Ukrainian citizens, and those who have been legally staying on the territory of Ukraine, and we do take good care of them.”

    Hungary, otherwise known for its staunch anti-immigration policies, has even passed a regulation allowing citizens of third countries who had been studying or working in Ukraine “to enter the territory of Hungary without reason,” Szijjarto said. “We organize for them the transfers to the nearest airports to enable them to return home.”

    ’We do not allow any illegal migrants to enter Hungary’

    However, the government has also made clear that these words of welcome are not meant for everyone fleeing Ukraine and that it has not changed its stance on barring all those it calls “illegal migrants”.

    The minister slammed “politicians in Hungary and abroad” suggesting his government had also opened the flood gates to “illegal migrants”. It was “fake news”, he said, that “illegal migrants would be allowed to enter the territory of Hungary, taking advantage of the flock of refugees,” Szijjarto told the UN Human Rights Council.

    “The truth is that we do not allow any illegal migrants to enter the territory of Hungary, and we will always protect Hungary from these people,” he said.

    He reiterated there was no comparison between refugees from Ukraine and the people Budapest has labelled “illegal migrants”, who have often arrived at its borders after fleeing war and conflict in places like Syria.

    Szijjarto claimed that Hungary had “a very, very clear experience” of how “illegal migrants tend to behave aggressively, ... they ruin the infrastructure and they attack police.” The minister said that refugees from Ukraine on the other hand cooperate with authorities and they “line up (at border crossing points) in a very disciplined very patient.”

    Different refugee groups, different treatment?

    Orban isn’t the only European far-right, anti-migration leader who has changed their tone towards refugees considerably since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

    “These are not the refugees we are used to,” Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said last week about Ukrainian refugees, quoted by the Associated Press. “These people are Europeans. These people are intelligent, they are educated people.”

    Such remarks illustrate a discrepancy between the treatment of Ukrainian migrants and the thousands of African, Arab, Indian and other migrant groups, including many students, trying to flee Ukraine, too.

    UN agencies, activists and refugee aid groups have been calling for equal treatment of members of any nationality trying to escape. On Thursday (March 3), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in an online statement it had received “verified credible reports of discrimination, violence and xenophobia against third country nationals attempting to flee the conflict in Ukraine,” which resulted in “heightened risk and suffering”.

    “Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, nationality or migration status is unacceptable,” IOM Director-General Antonio Vitorino said on Twitter.

    More than 28,000 third-country nationals have arrived in Moldova, Slovakia and Poland from Ukraine so far, UN migration agency IOM spokesperson Joe Lowry said on Twitter on Wednesday.

    Violating human rights, flouting EU law

    Over the past few years, the United Nations and rights groups like the Hungarian Helsinki Committee have repeatedly criticized the Prime Minister Victor Orban’s far-right government for its harsh migration policies.

    Among other things, Hungary enacted a law in 2018 that threatens jail time for people who support asylum seekers. It also proposed immigration bans and committed thousands of well-documented, illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers.

    One of the victims of these pushbacks is Moroccan migrant Jalal, who was traveling the Balkan route in early 2021 and made it over the border to Hungary before he was hit by a vehicle and suffered “terrible” injuries.

    Orban has also often made highly provocative statements in the past, including calling migrants “Muslim invaders” and claiming that “all terrorists are basically migrants.”

    In December, moreover, Orban said his country would not alter its strict immigration laws in the wake of a ruling from the EU’s top court, which had said that Hungary’s laws contravene EU law.



    #racisme #réfugiés #guerre #Ukraine #Africains #frontières #fermeture_des_frontières #catégorisation #tri #réfugiés_ukrainiens


    ajouté à ce fil de discussion :

    et plus particulièrement ici (Hongrie) :

    • ’Good asylum-seekers’ vs. ’bad migrants’ – Hungary’s varying treatment of war refugees

      The warm welcome extended to Ukrainian refugees by EU countries that otherwise take a strict anti-immigrant stance has highlighted the stark differences in the treatment of people from Ukraine and those from non-European war zones. In Hungary the contrast is especially apparent, as the example of an Afghan student shows.

      Three years after he came to Hungary to study, Hasib Qarizada found himself left alone without help in a field in neighboring Serbia. How did he end up there?

      It all started last summer when the radical Islamic Taliban seized power in Hasib’s native Afghanistan. As his home country was descending into chaos, Hasib lodged an asylum application in the EU member state. But last September, Hungarian authorities, rather than offering refuge to Hasib, brought him over the border into non-EU country Serbia, a place he knew nothing about.

      "Police just came over and handcuffed me,’’ Hasib told The Associated Press (AP) in Belgrade, the Serbian capital. "They told me ’Don’t try to run away, don’t try to fight with us, don’t do anything stupid.’’’

      Stranded in a field in the middle of nowhere, the 25-year-old had no idea where he was, where to go or what to do.

      "I was a student, and they just gave my life a totally different twist,’’ he told AP. "They didn’t give me a chance to grab my clothes, my [phone] charger or my laptop or anything important that I would need to travel.’’

      He told the AP he "had no idea where Serbia was, what language they speak, what kind of culture they have.’’
      ’Sinister practice’

      EU countries like Hungary have been notorious for their strict anti-immigration laws, and this isn’t the first time rights activists have registered such a case in the region. In 2017, a 16-year-old Kurd from Iraq was deported into Serbia from Hungary — despite having initially arrived in Hungary from Romania and having managed to reach Austria before he was sent back to Hungary.

      Last December, a Cameroonian woman who entered Hungary from Romania was expelled to Serbia. Another African woman who arrived a year ago by plane from Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, reportedly also wound up in a field in Serbia.

      "This is something that unfortunately has become normal, regular and something which cannot be considered unusual,’’ Serbian rights lawyer Nikola Kovacevic told the AP. Still, this illegal practice of sending people into a third country they hadn’t come from was “particularly sinister,” according to the AP.
      Double standard

      With the current exodus of Ukrainians fleeing war, Hungary’s policies seem to have changed. Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Orban announced “we’re letting everyone in.”

      There are other EU countries that face accusations of violence against migrants which now welcome people fleeing Ukraine with open arms. They include Croatia and Greece.

      While activists, UN agencies and other entities have applauded the shift from harsh anti-migration policies, they have also been warning of discrimination against refugees and migrants from Africa and the Middle East — groups of people who have been facing pushbacks at Europe’s external borders for years.

      "For those of us following these issues, it is hard to miss the stark contrast of the last few weeks with Europe’s harsh response to people fleeing other wars and crises,’’ Judith Sunderland of Human Rights Watch told AP. "A staggering number of people from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East die every year attempting to reach Europe.’’

      Zsolt Szekeres from the Hungarian Helsinki Committee noted that “the [Hungarian] government is trying their best to explain now why Ukrainians are good asylum-seekers and others are bad migrants.”

      Last week, less than ten days before Hungary holds its next national election (April 3), a government spokesperson called media reports that authorities were discriminating among the refugees arriving from Ukraine "fake news’’.

      Yet earlier this month, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that refugees from Ukraine and the people Budapest has labeled “illegal migrants” could not be compared. He said: “The truth is that we do not allow any illegal migrants to enter the territory of Hungary, and we will always protect Hungary from these people.”

      Hungary’s harsh migration policies have manifested in, among other things, a 2018 law that threatens jail time for people who support asylum seekers, proposed immigration bans as well as thousands of illegal pushbacks.

      Orban has also often made highly provocative statements in the past, including calling migrants “Muslim invaders” and claiming that “all terrorists are basically migrants.” In December, moreover, Orban said his country would not alter its strict immigration laws in the wake of a ruling from the EU’s top court, which had said that Hungary’s laws contravene EU law.
      Next-level pushbacks

      The illegal practice of pushing asylum seekers like Afghan Hasib Qarizada back over the border
      , which many activists and journalists say are used systematically at the EU’s southeastern and eastern borders, has been observed for a number of years now. According to one human rights group, many cases involve torture.

      But when asylum seekers are expelled to a country they hadn’t come from, like Hasib, "the severity of the violation is higher,’’ Kovacevic, the Serbian lawyer, told AP.

      Hasib’s deportation is considered particularly striking given that the Afghan hadn’t arrived in Hungary irregularly. He was a self-financed student, shared an apartment and had established a life in Budapest. The reason for his decision to seek asylum was simple: His family could no longer pay his university fees due to the turmoil in Afghanistan, which meant he couldn’t renew his residence permit, according to AP.

      His family was in danger as they had connections with Afghanistan’s pre-Taliban government, Hasib told the AP. "They hardly go outside,’’ he said. Yet when Hungarian authorities rejected his request for refuge, activists say, they disregarded the fact that Afghanistan couldn’t be considered safe following the Taliban’s return to power.

      Lawyers with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) have since taken Hasib’s case both to courts in Hungary and the European Court of Human Rights. They argue that his unlawful expulsion violates the European Convention of Human Rights.

      Although a Hungarian court has ruled in his favor, AP reported, the lawyers are now trying to use legal measures to force Hungarian authorities to implement the decision so that Hasib is allowed to return to Hungary.

      "He applied for asylum, he was staying here, and he was in need of protection, and he was pushed out in a summary manner,’’ the HHC’s Zsolt Szekeres said. "He was never given the possibility or option to explain his situation.’’
      Worst days of his life

      In Serbia, Hasib was forced to sleep outside for four nights after being sent there. The days after he was abandoned on the field were the worst of his life, Hasib said. He recalls to AP wandering around for hours and asking a woman at a gas station to let him charge his phone.

      "I felt very horrible ... because I was a normal student. I was studying, I was going to classes. I had my own friends. I had my own life,’’ he said. "I wasn’t doing anything bad.’’

      According to Szekeres, governments should treat all people escaping war zones the same. "There is no difference between Ukrainian parents fleeing with their children and Afghan parents fleeing with their children,’’ he told AP. "This is a good reminder for everyone that asylum-seekers, no matter where they come from, need protection.’’