Conflicts & War

NGOs accuse Hungarian gov’t of inertia as refugees pour in

Budapest, Mar 19 (EFE).- Several NGOs on Saturday denounced the Hungarian government’s passive stance amid an influx of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

The charities called for more coordination between large NGOs and smaller associations to deal with the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.

“The state must take steps to coordinate the work of the organizations,” Andreas Siewert, who founded Migration Aid during the 2015 refugee crisis, told Efe.

Groups like Migration Aid, which helps refugees with over 500 volunteers, rely on donations and receive help and coordination only from some municipalities, but not from the central government in Hungary.

“Many of the really important initiatives come from smaller organizations,” Siewert said.

Hungary has received over 280,000 Ukrainians who have fled their nation in the wake of Russia’s invasion, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Most Ukrainian refugees stay in the country for only a few days before moving on to other destinations.

“I think that this crisis is and will be big enough to force the state to mobilize all available resources and it cannot ignore the fact that there are many smaller civil organizations that work very well and handle the situation effectively,” he said.

Independent media have also criticized the inertia of the government, which only provides the largest organizations, such as the Red Cross, with funds and does not assist with coordinating tasks.

“The government abandons refugees and citizens are the only ones who really help,” according to the Magyar Narancs magazine.

The magazine also denounces that state support is limited to police patrols of large train stations and at border crossings.

Individuals donations continue to be crucial to small charities and enabled Migration Aid to recently open a Budapest reception center that can host up to 300 people during their short stay in Hungary before continuing with their journey.

“We have set it up it without a cent from the state,” Siewert said.

Shortly after announcing that the center would open, private donations began to pour in.

Refugees can stay for a maximum of three nights.

From there, shuttle buses leave three times a week for Vienna, a service that is organized with the Austrian capital’s city council. EFE


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