Being in correspondence with the Office of Immigration and Nationality (OIN) and having observed its performance, Migszol did not have false hopes for its visit to the Debrecen camp. Nevertheless, we had not expected to see the camp in a far worse condition than our previous visits. Throughout our discussions with refugees and asylum seekers we realized that not only the living conditions have worsened, but also misleading advices ( such as leaving Hungary and seeking asylum in another country) have been told to refugees/asylum seekers directly and indirectly by the social workers and authorities in the camp.
To our question “how can you be told indirectly to leave the country?”, one of the Afghan asylum seekers answered: “with negligence and irresponsibility.” We insisted for clear examples, and he gathered some of his friends who shared their stories:
- There are about eleven Afghans who were told to leave the Debrecen camp and live “somewhere else” for at least a month. When Afghans asked “where to live?” the social workers answered “lodge in a tent”. These eleven asylum seekers got negative decisions and are now appealing to the court. The asylum seekers were told that based on the law, they cannot reside in the camp any more. However, according to law if someone is fully rejected and appeals to court he/she has the right to stay in the camp. If someone gets subsidiary protection and appeals for the refugee status, he/she has only 2 months to stay in the camp. This means that either asylum seekers are kept in ignorance about their rights, or the truth is not told to them. “How can we present ourselves in the court and how can you find us if we live in a tent? ” they asked and the answer was “you will be called.”
- One night, about three months ago, an old man went to the camp nurse to get medicine for his massive headache. To everybody’s surprise, the nurse started crying for help - because the man fainted. She did not know what happened, nor what to do and called an ambulance. The ambulance came one and half hours late, and the man had a stroke. Fortunately, he is alive now, but he can neither speak nor use one of his arms.
- There is another case of a woman who spent a week in hospital because the nurse couldn't do anything about her Dyspnea (shortness of breath).
- There is a lady who was operated many times during her stay in the Debrecen camp, but she did not get information about her health problem or any reason for her operations. As the asylum seekers recount: “Not only the nurse is about 70 years old and hopeless, the resident doctor visits the camp only two hours a day. No one cares about us.”
- It's been two weeks since the refugees in one of the buildings of the camp took a shower. The reason is that there is only one bathroom for 30 rooms and the bathroom is flooded. After a failed attempt to fix the bathroom, the social workers told asylum seekers and refugees that “it is not their responsibility to fix the bathroom.”
The asylum seekers are systematically kept in ignorance about their rights to have lawyers other than those employed by the state. One can reason, that this might be based on the assumption that asylum seekers don't have much money; paradoxically, and hypocritically, every detained asylum seeker is asked if he/she can provide 2000€ to pay as a bail to be transferred from detention centers to open camps.
Refugees and asylum seekers are also discriminated in the city (especially in cafés, bars, and markets). They are sometimes harassed and approached by racially prejudiced people. When we asked “why don't you complain to the police or the social workers?” they answered that they are afraid to do so. This fear, in our opinion, stems from the fact that refugees and asylum seekers are seen as - and feel like - unwanted, and no information about their rights are given to them. It also shows the high ratio of asylum seekers to social workers and ineffectiveness of the system. On average asylum seekers and refugees cannot distinguish/tell different organizations in the camp and their roles.
Therefore in this sphere, Migszol sees its role and duty to inform asylum seekers and refugees about their political rights. If refugees and asylum seekers Know their right, they will be more ready for a collective action against the inhumane behaviour of immigration office. On 10th of May Migszol will visit the camp once more for this purpose and also for the final preparation before the protest on 17th of May - JOIN US! The protest is a sign of solidarity between migrants and host community and will be a collective action against detention regime.