Traditionally, Hungary is a transit, source, and destination country of both regular and irregular migration. Its geographical location, European Union membership and relative prosperity act as a pull factor for migrants from neighbouring countries, including ethnic Hungarians. As an EU Member State, a section of Hungary’s borders form the new external borders of the enlarged European Union. Stricter immigration rules, strengthened border management, and tighter regulation regarding the employment of foreign workers have been developed and are being applied.
In 1991, Hungary became a member state of IOM and the following year, the Organization established its office in Budapest. Since the signature of the agreement between IOM and the Hungarian Government (7 April 1992), the IOM mission enjoys diplomatic status. Throughout the 1990s IOM has managed numerous projects in the fields of counter-trafficking, migration and health, assisted voluntary return and assistance to migrants in transit and run several public information campaigns on migration issues in Hungary.
The IOM office in Hungary has been actively involved in building capacity of the Hungarian government to manage migration issues through training, organizing regional and international exchange programmes, conferences and research projects. IOM Budapest has also established partnerships with a number of relevant non-governmental organizations assisting migrants and victims of trafficking in Hungary.
From November 2000 to July 2011, IOM Budapest functioned as a “Mission with Regional Functions” (MRF). First providing direct support, supervision and assistance to IOM’s missions in the Central European region, the regional functions of the office in Budapest were then expanded to include IOM missions in South-Eastern Europe. MRF Budapest therefore not only ensured the effective sharing of core resources and expertise between the Field Offices under its responsibility but also a consistent approach in important areas such as project development and the application of administrative and operational policies and procedures throughout the Organization. Currently, IOM Budapest is the Country Mission for Hungary.
Due to its geographical location, Hungary is one of the main transit countries of irregular migration on land towards other Member States of the European Union. Eastern and south-eastern migration routes are crossing the territory of the country, the so-called Western Balkan route (via Turkey, Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to Serbia, then via Hungary to other EU Member States) being the most active. According to FRONTEX, Hungary is the second country in terms of the apprehended irregular migrants at its external land borders. For Hungary, combating irregular migration is currently the utmost priority. There were 26,061 irregular border crossings completed or attempted in 2013, which is a dramatic increase compared to the previous years: 9,933 irregular border crossings in 2012 and 6,904 crossings in 2011. 22,877 of them took place at the Schengen external borders. Main categories of citizenships were the following: Kosovars (6,338), Pakistani (3,160), Afghan (2,274) and Algerian (1,085). There is a significant increase of Syrian nationals in this context (1,039), mainly seeking asylum. Predominant part of the apprehended migrants lodged an asylum application, resulting in the highest number of applicants in the history of asylum since 1989.
With Hungary’s EU accession, labour migration of Hungarian citizens has increased to EU countries that did not impose transition periods for the free movement of labour (United Kingdom, Ireland), and as a result Hungary is gradually becoming a country in need of foreign workers in certain economic sectors. The Hungarian Migration Strategy, adopted in October 2013, also emphasizes the fact that although it is still important to ensure the protection of the national labour force, based on the needs of the country's economy and labour market, receiving additional migrant labour is a necessity. Attracting knowledge-based migration is also set as a goal, but there is no developing tendency of highly qualified third-country nationals applying for the EU Blue Card, as a possible way to gain residence permit in an EU country.
As immigration to the country has become a reality, there is a growing need for a coherent integration policy and assistance framework. Overall, the number of foreign citizens living in Hungary has been growing: from 93,000 to 143,000 during the period of 2001 and 2011. The Hungarian Migration Strategy called for the establishment of an independent Integration Strategythat envisages promoting the integration of migrants through an integrated co-operation network between key actors involving the national, local governments and non-government organizations. Moreover, a new integration system for beneficiaries of international protection has been in effect since 1 January 2014 where integration is to be accomplished on the basis of individual “integration contracts”, providing for tailor-made integration packages including all rights, obligations and support for beneficiaries of international protection.
Young women and girls are trafficked to, from and through Hungary, for the purpose of sexual exploitation. In the past years, Hungary has become more visible as a country of origin of victims of trafficking. Primary destination countries for sexual exploitation are the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Switzerland but among traffickers the United Kingdom is also becoming a significant destination. IOM assists a high number of returning victims (mainly from the Netherlands and Switzerland). Internal trafficking also occurs from areas of high unemployment rate in Eastern Hungary to Western Hungary.
- The European Return Fund
- Government of Hungary
- Government of Canada
- The European Refugee Fund
IOM Budapest assists irregular migrants, refugees, rejected asylum seekers and persons authorized to stay in Hungary to return to their home countries in safety and dignity and contributes to the sustainability of their return. IOM provides potential beneficiaries with information about the advantages of assisted voluntary return (AVR) through multiple channels (hotline, website, film, brochures and personal visits), and arranges their full travel (obtaining travel documentation, purchasing travel tickets, departure, transit and arrival assistance). In the period of 2009-2013, 1,755 third-country nationals returned home within the AVR programme of IOM.
In particular, the Hungarian Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Programme for Migrants (HAVRRPM) 2014-2015 aims to facilitate the voluntary and orderly return of asylum seekers, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, beneficiaries of temporary protection, third country nationals who do not or no longer fulfill the conditions for entry and/or stay rules in Hungary and who, in accordance with the obligations to leave the territory of Hungary make use of voluntary return in Hungary, to their country of origin, and to contribute towards the sustainability of their return. The programme consists of two components: an operational return component where beneficiaries are provided assistance in arranging their voluntary return (obtaining travel documentation, purchasing travel tickets, departure, transit and arrival assistance) and a reintegration component, which focuses on providing returnees with assistance in finding and supporting the reintegration opportunities in their country of origin/return.
IOM Budapest has been providing Hungarian failed refugee claimants returning to Hungary from Canada with reintegration assistance, under the Canadian AVRR programme. The total number of beneficiaries was 1,390 during the period of August 2012 and April 2014.
- Hungarian Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Programme for Migrants (HAVRRPM)
- Hungarian Information Project for Migrants on Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration
- Complex Reintegration Assistance to Assisted Voluntary Returnees to Kosovo (UNSCR 1244)
- Canadian Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (CAVRR)
- Voluntary Return European Network (VREN)
- Improving the Quality of UAMAS’ Guardianship and Care in Central European Countries
- The European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals
- European Commission IPA 2009 Multi-beneficiary Programme 2
- German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees
- IOM Development Fund
- Government of Austria
- Government of Italy
- Government of New Zealand
- Government of Australia
IOM’s newly launched project HEADSTART: Fostering Integration Before Departure aims to consolidate lessons learned from existing pre-departure integration practices, as well as to explore pathways to a stronger link between pre-departure and post-arrival immigrant integration services. This will be achieved through identified promising practices in the field of pre-departure integration, an Operations Manual for Migrant Resource Centres, improved networking among practitioners and better coordination of the pre-departure and post-arrival provision of services.
IOM Budapest supports the New Zealand immigration service in checking the authenticity of documents (education and employment certificates) submitted by Hungarian citizens for the purpose of immigration to New Zealand.
IOM Budapest provides movement assistance to Hungarian citizens who wish to emigrate from Hungary to Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
- HEADSTART: Fostering Integration Before Departure
- Document verification support for New Zealand Immigration Services
- Self-payers’ movements to Australia, New Zealand and Canada
- Migration for Development in the Western Balkans (MIDWEB)
- At Home in Hungary
- Independent Network of Labour Integration and Social Inclusion Experts (LINET)
- Migrants in the Spotlight: Training and Capacity Building for Media
Main text: June 2014
Facts and figures: September 2014