Hungary > Living
last update: November 2016
How are the living conditions in the open camps in Hungary?
The situation in the camps changes fast and the conditions are very different from camp to camp. We recommend this information leaflet by the HHC on the structure of camps in Hungary. In spring 2016, the Hungarian government announced that it wants to close all refugee camps, including the biggest one in Bicske. There are no details as to when this would actually happen.
In the camps, you are supposed to get a bed and food everyday. Sometimes camps are full and people forced to live in crowded spaces, sleeping on dirty mattresses or even no mattresses. We have reports that the food is often not enough, and that the quality is not good. At the same time, when there are less people in the camps because most people are stuck at the border, then people say that there are good conditions in the camps. Officially there is no weekly allowance of money for people inside camps, so in theory if you want to buy extra food, cigarettes, or anything else, you have to finance it by yourself. However, we also know that in some camps people still get the weekly allowance.
Doctors are supposed to come in each camp. The time is different in each camp. It can be very difficult to talk with doctors because of the lack of translators. Doctors can provide only basic medicine. For more serious case asylum seekers are entitled to go to health services.You can always ask to see the Cordelia Foundation, they are very good, and they provide psycho-social support in every camp. They also have good translators you can trust, so you can tell your medical issues to them.
In each camp there are lawyers from the Hungarian Helsinki Committee visiting every week. You can also write to the Helsinki Committee on their Facebook page.
You have to go back to the camp every day. If you are gone too long the guards may not let you in anymore - there is a system to check it with the cards with the bar code. When you arrive in the camp (or within two weeks) you should also receive a police card that allow you to travel within Hungary, to buy a SIM card, and receive money with Western Union. If you leave the camp, always carry your camp ID and the police card with you. If the police catches you in Budapest and you are not carrying the police card or they think that you might be leaving to another country, they might send you to a closed camp.
The Helsinki Committee lawyers visit each camp regularly, approximately every week, and offer legal assistance. The personnel in the camp should inform you about their next visit. Cordelia Foundation also visits most camps and offers psychological help for people who need it - for stress, trauma, any mental condition you would like to have help for. They are usually working close with the Helsinki Committee and each organization refers cases to one another, so when you speak with one of them, ask info about the other as well.