Debrecen Camp Report and Is Hungary Still Deporting to Bulgaria?
A second report by Migráns Szolidaritás Csoport / Migrant Solidarity Group of Hungary from the Debrecen Camp and a question for the Hungarian state about deportations of vulnerable asylum seekers to Bulgaria.
In our previous report we described the situation in the Debrecen camp in general, this time we focus on the specific issue of deportations of asylum seekers in Hungary to Bulgaria.
Recently in January, the UNHCR advised that Dubin II/III deportations of asylum-seekers to Bulgaria should cease immediately, not only because of the horrific conditions in the refugee camps and excessive detentions, but because the process of determining whether someone (an asylum seeker) receives a refugee status is quite simply no longer working.
In April 2014, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) and Amnesty International re-stated their call for an immediate stop of deportations to Bulgaria. For more info about Bulgaria, you can see a photo series by UNHCR, and of course the Bulgaria-section of Border Monitoring. And let’s not forget that extreme right attacks against refugees are on the rise, and that Bulgaria is currently building a fence on the Turkish border to keep Syrian refugees out.
As we heard from asylum-seekers at the Debrecen camp, some of them have received a paper that says their asylum procedure has been stopped in Hungary because their fingerprints have been found in the Bulgarian system. We asked the press office of immigration office what on earth is going on — could it still be, that asylum-seekers are deported to Bulgaria even though it is clearly an outrageous denial of people’s right to seek asylum? Not only did we find out that the Bulgarian immigration office (or SAR, ‘State Agency for Refugees’) had visited their Hungarian counterparts (see OIN report in Hungarian about their meeting, here), but also we were directly told by the OIN that because of contradictory information on the situation in Bulgaria, Hungary has not decided whether deportations there should stop. Now this, for us, is a confusing answer - neither a simple YES or NO answer - so, we wrote back asking that what exactly is the contradictory information OIN refers to and whether this could also be made public - well, at the time of this writing, we still have not heard back from the OIN on this issue.
Now, zooming our focus back to the Debrecen camp once more - let us remember that asylum-seekers are not just numbers, but are actual people! Not to mention the fact outlined by the reports from Bulgaria that were referenced earlier, we’d like to draw attention to the fact that OIN still threatens to deport people to Bulgaria who are suffering from severe mental and physical illnesses.
As an example, at the Debrecen camp we met a Palestinian asylum seeker who previously suffered a back injury in Bulgaria and today is only able to pass his days with the help of strong sedatives, and yet still suffers from severe depression. How can the OIN possibly justify the deportation of severely ill people into the well documented poor conditions such as those in Bulgaria? Just a few days ago, April 15 2014, the UNHCR specifically warned against deportation of vulnerable people to Bulgaria. But will the Hungarian state listen?
Stay tuned for our next plans of action at the Debrecen camp. And, by the way, the number of cockroaches and bedbugs in the Debrecen camp is reaching quite impressive amounts — although still OIN claims that the problem has been ‘totally’ eliminated. We will report back again on the issue of living conditions inside the camp on a later date.