Hungary Denying Food to Asylum Seekers at Border, Group Says

(Bloomberg) -- A rights group representing asylum seekers said Hungary is denying food at border-transit areas as part of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s harsh anti-immigration policies.

An Afghan woman has become the eighth asylum seeker to be refused food at a border-detention camp, according to Zsolt Zadori, a spokesman at the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, her legal representative. In previous cases, the watchdog won injunctions from the European Court of Human Rights, forcing authorities to start providing food.

“It’s completely inhumane,” said Zadori, whose organization says food has been provided to the young children of some Afghan families but denied to their parents. “The aim is to convince asylum seekers to leave and to dissuade others from entering.”

Orban was among the first leaders to build a fence to repel migrants following the biggest wave of arrivals to Europe since World War II. He won re-election in April on an anti-immigration platform that’s been praised by U.S. President Donald Trump, himself criticized for separating undocumented children from parents and urging a wall on the Mexican border.

Hungary deems southern neighbor Serbia a “safe country” for asylum seekers, contrary to the assessment of the United Nations’s refugee agency. That’s allowed immigration officials to reject asylum applications from people arriving from the Balkan country, change their status to people awaiting expulsion and apply different rules. The authorities say they’re free to leave for Serbia if they wish.

Neither Hungary’s Interior Ministry nor the Immigration Office responded to calls and emails seeking comment. Hungary isn’t mandated to provide food to those being expelled, so the government isn’t breaking any law, the Immigration Office was cited as saying Wednesday.

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