Transit zone photo

Hungarian Politics podcast – Refugees on the Hungarian Border

This week on the Hungarian Politics podcast, we take a detailed look at the refugee situation on Hungary’s southern border by talking to two people closely involved with this issue.

Refugees from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan have been making their way to the borders of the European Union in large numbers for over a year now, and many of those fleeing hostilities in their own countries have attempted to enter the EU through the Hungary.

In September 2015 Hungary set up two so-called “transit zones” next to the Serbian border, near the towns of Röszke and Tompa, to help process and accommodate the rush of asylum seekers into the country. And while nowadays perhaps fewer people are attempting to enter the EU as in previous months, there are still large numbers of people who arrive to these transit zones on a daily basis.

Babar Baloch photo
Babar Baloch, UNHCR Spokesperson for Central Europe

What is the situation like at these places? What happens to asylum seekers once they arrive and attempt to enter Hungary? What should the Hungarian government do, if anything, to help relieve the situation? And what role is Hungarian domestic politics playing in this matter?

We discuss these issues in the podcast with our two guests. The first is Babar Baloch, the Spokesperson for the UNHCR in Central Europe, who is based here in Budapest. Baloch informs us of the work that the UN’s refugee agency is engaged in and how he feels Hungary can improve the current refugee situation.

Hélène Bienvenu photo
Freelance journalist Hélène Bienvenu

We then speak with Hélène Bienvenu, a freelance journalist who writes for English and French-language publications like The New York Times, La Croix, and Le Figaro. Bienvenu is a Budapest resident who has been to the transit zones several times, most recently at the end of the May, and was also there last September when violent conflict broke out between a group of refugees and Hungarian special forces.

Bienvenu tells us of her fascinating experiences at the transit zones, and the stories of some of the people she has met there while reporting.

You can follow Babar Baloch on Twitter @iBabarBaloch, and Hélène Bienvenu @bienvenuLN.

Listen to the show in the player at the top of this post, or download the file to your local drive. Thanks for listening!

Photo credit (top): Hélène Bienvenu