Conditions in reception facilities



Hungarian Helsinki Committee

Until the end of year 2016, it had not happened that asylum seekers would be left without accommodation due to a shortage of places in reception centres. According to EASO, in March 2015, the overall occupancy rate was at 60-70%.1 This has however significantly increased during the summer months of 2015, when on some weeks the occupancy rate varied between 150-250%. Summer of 2016 was also busy in reception facilities. In Vámosszabadi the community areas were full on mattresses where men and women slept together.

The IAO failed to provide adequate reception conditions to a large number of arrivals during June-August 2015. Asylum seekers transiting through Budapest had no access to any shelter, food or water. Volunteer groups took over the role of state in providing basic support for the asylum seekers. During July and August one of the volunteer groups, Migration Aid, supplied on average 1,600 people per day, altogether 111,600 persons, with food, water, hygienic supplies, medication and some with overnight shelter. No such situation has been witnessed in 2016.

As opposed to detention centres (see section on Conditions in Detention Facilities), the legal standards regulating open reception premises are defined in separate instruments.2 Conditions in reception centres differ. In all centres, residents get 3 meals per day. People cannot cook for themselves in every facility, since in Vámosszabadi there are only a few cookers, due to the bad electric installation, while in Körmend or Kiskunhalas there is no cooking facility available at all. Religious diets are respected in all facilities. There is no regulation on the amount of nutrition value necessary for the reception centres, contrary to the detention centres.

In all centres, regular cleaning is arranged except in Körmend. Balassagyarmat, Kiskunhalas and Vámosszabadi are relatively clean, while in Körmend the residents complain about the level of cleanliness and also about the general living conditions. The number of toilets and showers are sufficient in all facilities during regular occupancy. However, during the summer of 2015 this has also proven to be a challenge, along with the general deterioration of cleanliness and hygienic conditions.

Residents share rooms (tents in Körmend). The minimum surface area that should be available is outlined in national legislation only for the community shelters i.e. Balassagyarmat. The relevant Decree provides that the community shelter must have at least 15 m3 of air space and 5 m2 of floor space per person.3 Families are accommodated in family rooms.

There have been no problems reported in connection to the practicing of religion.

Asylum seekers can go outside whenever they want. In Vámosszabadi, the IAO provides also direct free bus transport to Győr, the nearest bigger town, for the residents of the community shelter. In Kiskunhalas, access to the town is not ensured since there is no available public transport and not even pavement.

Social and community workers in the reception facilities sometimes organise different activities for asylum seekers e.g. drawing, music activities, film clubs, cooking or sport events. However, such activities are project-based and occur only if there is a funded project. During the summer of 2015 no such activities were organised since social workers were involved in distributing bedlinen and other administrative tasks. Every facility has computers and community rooms and sport fields. Some have a playground as well. In Vámosszabadi, the social workers have also organised a small library and Hungarian language classes are organised, as well.

In each facility, medical services are available. However, asylum seekers complain about the lack of interpretation services when accessing medical services.

According to the report on Körmend written by HHC in November 2016,4 out of all the tents provided for asylum seekers, IAO has made 6 tents suitable for winter conditions. The 6 tents were equipped with an extra layer inside and were also reinforced from the outside. At the end of October 2016, the IAO installed iron stoves in the tents that burn wood. Shredded wood, kindling and matches were given to the asylum seekers in order to operate the stoves. Asylum seekers told the HHC that the shredded wood supply is available at all times, although each of them complained about its heating capacity. They constantly need to feed the fire to prevent a fall in temperature. Asylum seekers are especially cold in the morning given that they cannot fill the stoves when sleeping. Besides the cold, asylum seekers also complained that it is dark in the tents even during daytime. HHC observed two flooded tents. According to the asylum seekers, flooding mostly happens from beneath and from the side.


Duration of stay in reception centres

The average length of time spent in reception facilities for asylum seekers that did not leave before the end of their procedure is not available for 2016, but may be estimated at a few months. The average duration of stay has significantly decreased compared to previous years, due to the significant number of persons absconding within 10 days after applying for asylum in Hungary.5

  • 1. EASO, Description of the Hungarian asylum system, May 2015, 10.
  • 2. EASO, Description of the Hungarian asylum system, May 2015, 10.
  • 3. Section 131 Decree 114/2007.
  • 4. HHC, Report on Körmend, 18 November 2016, available at:
  • 5. See HHC, Information Note: Hungarian Government reveals plans to breach EU asylum law and to subject asylum-seekers to massive detention and immediate deportation, 3 March 2015, 1 and EASO, Description of the Hungarian asylum system, May 2015, 10, suggesting that 80-90% of applicants abscond soon after lodging an application according to IAO data.

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti