Until the end of year 2019, it had not been the case that asylum seekers were left without accommodation due to a shortage of places in reception centres.
Unlike detention centres (see section on Conditions in Detention Facilities), the legal standards regulating open reception premises are defined in separate instruments. There is no regulation on the minimum surface area, the minimum common areas or on the minimum sanitary fittings. Conditions in reception centres differ. In all centres, residents get 3 meals per day or are provided with financial allowance. As a result of the limited number of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection, people can cook for themselves in every facility. The Decree of the Minister of Interior 52/2007 on the organisation of NDGAP stipulates the amount of nutrition value that must be provided at the open reception facilities and states that religious diets are to be respected in all facilities.
In all centres, regular cleaning is arranged and the number of toilets and showers are sufficient in all facilities during regular occupancy. Although in 2017, in Vámosszabadi toilet and shower facilities raised concerns relating to hygiene and possible spread of diseases, there was no complaint noted by the Menedék Association in 2018 and 2019. Not every door is lockable which can easily amount to unsecured privacy. It was recorded in 2018 in Vámosszabadi in the case of a young asylum-seeking woman that armed security guards did not let her to lock her room’s door, only if she reported herself at the security personnel on a daily basis.
Residents share rooms. The minimum surface area that should be available is outlined in the national legislation only for the community shelters i.e. Balassagyarmat. The relevant Decree provides that the community shelter must have at least 5m3of air space and 4m2of floor space per bed. Families are accommodated in family rooms.
Every facility has computers, community rooms and sport fields.
There have been no problems reported regarding the religion practice. Unlike in the precedent years, in 2018 the personnel of Fót Children’s Home in the beginning of the holiday of Ramadan did not adjust to the changed daily routine of the children, which resulted in conflicts between the staff of the Home and the children. Although, after two weeks, with the mediation of NGOs, the Home made it available to the children that they could cook for themselves. There was no such a case reported in 2019.
Asylum seekers can go outside whenever they want. In Vámosszabadi, the former IAO used to provide direct free bus transport to Győr, the nearest big town, for the residents of the reception centre. The practice was halted around mid-2018, supposedly owing to the limited number of people accommodated by the centre. Although, in case there are important matters to manage in Győr (e.g. personal document issues), asylum seekers have been transported on weekdays by a minibus driven by a social worker to the city.
Activities in the centres
Social workers of the former IAO used to organise different activities for asylum seekers in the reception facilities e.g. drawing, music activities, movie clubs, cooking or sport events. In Vámosszabadi, they used to even organise a small library and Hungarian language classes, as well. However, in 2018 and 2019 reportedly, there was no regular program provided to asylum seekers by social workers who were mainly burdened by administrative tasks. The withdrawal of the AMIF calls affected the number of the social workers and their activities as well. Many of them lost their job after 30 June 2018. Furthermore, due to the institutional transformation of the asylum authority, there were several employees whose employment ceased by July 2019. Consequently, in 2018 and 2019 community activities were exclusively provided by NGOs in the reception facilities however, the number of these organizations on the field due to funding troubles has also decreased.
The Menedék Association for Migrants just as in 2018 continued its activity in all reception facilities providing regular individual support, information provision, legal counselling (information on the rights and obligations, furthermore on rules of employment, accommodation etc.) and organized community programs for the residents. Their community programmes covered a wide range of activities for children and sport programmes to cultural activities. The organization was also present in Fót between January and March 2019 and then from September again until now. They have joint visits with the Jesuit Refugee Service two times a week. They offer a wide range of activities to the unaccompanied children, such as art and craft programmes, table tennis, board games or going to the cinema.
Reportedly, the Hungarian Red Cross and the Kalunba Nonprofit Kft. were also present in Vámosszabadi in 2019 from time to time.
Cordelia Foundation was also present providing psychosocial services to the residents of Vámosszabadi, Balassagyarmat and Fót, as well (see for more detail Section Health care).
In Vámosszabadi a couple of volunteers also assisted asylum seekers in 2018, mainly those who were in subsequent procedure and were denied food. According to HHC’s report from 2018, besides food, volunteers provided the residents of the reception centre with hygienic items and clothes, as well. In 2019, there was no more voluntary activity reported in Vámosszabadi.
In each facility, general medical services are available. However, asylum seekers complain about the lack of interpretation services when accessing medical services. In Vámosszabadi SOS Children’ Villages provided interpreters to assist asylum seekers at the medical services in the first half of 2018 however, their project ended, therefore this activity ceased, as well. According to Menedék Association in Vámosszabadi there has been Arabic language social worker assisting with interpretation, on the other hand there was no interpreter available in Balassagyarmat in 2019. In Fót, there are Arabic, Dari and Pashtu interpreters available. For special treatment and examination, asylum seekers were accepted by nearby town hospitals (in Győr), where according to a volunteer assisting a pregnant asylum seeker, people encountered the same language barriers.
Duration of stay in reception centres
According to the NDGAP, in Vámosszabadi there was a total of 33 people accommodated under the effect of the Asylum Act in 2019. It is not specified though if they were asylum seekers or beneficiaries of international protection. The average length of their stay was 135 days. Balassagyarmat hosted a total number of 150 people in 2019. Out of them there were 142 asylum seekers and 8 persons were under aliens policing procedure. The average length of time spent there was 2-3 weeks. There was one asylum seeker known to HHC whose procedures had been started more than 3 years ago and owing to the lack of effective remedy, he was still struggling to obtain international protection in one of the reception facilities until July 2018. Since then he has been waiting for the end of the procedure at private accommodation.
 According to Annex 1 Decree 239/2009 on the detailed conditions of providing countinuous shelter-service activity and the rules on the issuance of the permissions to operate a shelter, available in Hungarian at: https://bit.ly/2S8eugp.
 ommunity shelters (Balassagyart (Balassagyartmat)st of the schol aged children staying there, Section 131 Asylum Decree.
 HHC, Safety Net Torn Apart – Gender-based vulnerabilities in the Hungarian asylum system, 26 June 2018.
 Information provided by NDGAP, 3 February 2020.