Hungary last week faced renewed international criticism for its anti-migration measures after it deported two Afghan families to neighboring Serbia late at night.
Rights activists who witnessed the unusual deportation said no official received the four adults and seven children on the Serbian side. Hungarian officials denied the families’ asylum requests and told them they could either go back to Serbia, which they had passed through on their way to Hungary, or return to Afghanistan. Hungary amended its asylum eligibility criteria last year to deny the petitions of people who traveled through countries where they were neither persecuted nor at risk of persecution before arriving in the country.
“We note that such ‘voluntary’ departure could put migrants at further risk, as it could breach Hungarian deportation orders and force migrants to enter Serbia irregularly in contravention of Serbian law,” the United Nations human rights office warned.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his far-right Fidesz party have maintained a tough anti-migration stance and tightened the nation’s laws amid a populist wave across the Continent.
The UN this month also accused the country of denying food to ailing asylum-seekers in an attempt to coerce them to leave. Authorities refused food to at least 21 migrants awaiting deportation since August 2018, “some for up to five days,” at the transit zones along the border with Serbia, according to UN spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani.
Hungarian officials insisted it is not responsible for asylum-seekers whose requests were denied. “Asylum-seekers who have requested asylum and whose claim is under review continue to receive food and shelter as they always have,” the government noted in a blog post. —O.O.