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Hungary struggles with huge rise in asylum demands

Hungary struggles with huge rise in asylum demands
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Humanitarian organisations in Hungary say the country cannot cope with a massive influx of refugees.

The number asking for asylum has increased almost ten-fold compared to last year: some 17,000 by the end of October.

In 2013 they have come from 70 different countries – mostly from Kosovo, but also from Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

One man from Serbia says if he goes back home the local mafia will kill him – but nobody dealing with his case in Hungary is interested.

“They just tell you straight ‘you’re not going to get asylum’, that’s it,” he said

But despite the enormous increase in asylum seekers, Hungary is also an important transit route for migrants – taking advantage of the EU’s free-movement Schengen zone to head west.

The authorities say they can cope: “Considering that most of those coming here leave the country soon without even waiting for their request to be judged, for those who actually stay here we can offer an appropriate welcome,” said Zsuzsanna Végh, Director of the Immigration Office.

But recent reports, including a documentary by a Hungarian news website, have exposed hard conditions in the country’s refugee camps.

“The experts dealing with the asylum service and the system itself are not always doing their best, so from time to time we get news about problems and conflicts,” said András Kováts, Director of Menedék, the Hungarian Association for Migrants.

The camp euronews visited at Debrecen is a few kilometres from the Romanian border. It is likely to remain a focal point for asylum demands.

Euronews correspondent Andrea Hajagos reported from the camp: “Nobody knows if the huge number of asylum seekers will be lower soon or not – because Romania and Bulgaria will still not join the Schengen-countries, as originally scheduled, by the beginning of next year. So Hungary will continue to be the Schengen area’s eastern gate.”

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