Until the end of year 2021, asylum seekers were never 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 regarding reception centres. 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 (as an exception from this see also the part on Differential treatment of specific nationalities in reception). The Decree 52/2007 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. There were no related complaints reported in the last years.
In all centres, regular cleaning is arranged, and the number of toilets and showers are sufficient in all facilities during regular occupancy. There has been no concerning complaint noted by the Menedék Association in the last years. Not every door is lockable which does not guarantee a sufficient level of privacy. Nonetheless, since 2018 though there has been no complaint recorded in this regard either.
Residents share rooms. Families are accommodated in family rooms. Every facility has computers, community rooms and sport fields.
There have been no problems reported regarding religious practices.
After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, asylum seekers were given disposable masks and gloves, and for certain periods of time the fever control was introduced in the reception facilities. Hand sanitizers were provided at disposal in the reception centres, as well. Asylum seekers were continuously updated by the social workers – with the help of the HHC attorneys and the Menedék Association – about the newly adopted regulations, such as rules of curfew and the time slots based on age introduced in the supermarkets in 2020. In general, asylum seekers were treated in the same way as Hungarian citizens with regard to COVID-19 measures. In case of residents showing COVID-19 symptoms in 2021, reception centres ensured that testing was carried out as soon as possible, and ordered a halt on visits in the reception centre. Nevertheless, there was no one registered with COVID-19 infection in the reception centres in 2021.
Activities in the centres
The variety of activities of the asylum authority’s social workers compared to the era prior to 2018 has decreased. Since then, community activities have been mainly provided by NGOs in reception facilities. However, the number of these organizations on the field also decreased due to funding limitations. Exceptionally, in 2020, one social worker of the NDGAP provided child-specific development programs and another one offered Hungarian language classes for children in Vámosszabadi. According to the HHC’s knowledge, the services were provided with less intensity in Balassagyarmat. The community room in Vámosszabadi had been closed down, the residents could not use it until early 2020 when upon the Menedék Association’s request the room was re-opened, and thus children could again play with the toys stored in there. The internet room became accessible again in both reception facilities. In spring 2021, there an initiative aiming at providing Hungarian classes was proposed, but due to lack of interest on behalf of the residents it was not realized. The activities in Fót also lack frequency and are organized on an ad hoc basis.
The Menedék Association for Migrants similarly to the previous year, continued its activity in Vámosszabadi in 2020, 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 from children and sport programmes to cultural activities. The organisation was also present in Balassagyarmat at the beginning of the year 2020, providing programs aimed at easing the distress of the residents caused by the long detention conditions in the transit zones or in asylum detention centre. The organisation continued its activities online during the lockdown introduced in March 2020. Since then due to the low number of residents in the community shelter, it suspended its activities there. Between January and September 2021, due to the pandemic and the low number of residents, the Menedék Association kept in contact with the families living in Vámosszabadi and Balassagyarmat exclusively online. Once a family left the camps, the organization developed an active relationship with them. From September until November 2021, they were present in the reception facilities on a weekly basis and organized orientation discussions and community activities. The organization has also been present in Fót. They offered activities to unaccompanied children, such as art and craft programmes, Hungarian language class, psycho-social support, table tennis, board games or cinema visits. During the lockdown periods the Menedék Association provided the services online three times a week and through other telecommunication means. In 2021, the organization visited the children home twice a week. Their activities aimed at assistance with school integration, information provision, orientation and the establishment of a sense of security for the children.
The Jesuit Refugee Service has been also present in Fót since autumn 2019. In 2020 and 2021 the organisation offered programs for the children on a weekly basis.
The Hungarian Red Cross has been present in Vámosszabadi, Balassagyarmat and Fót on a regular basis. It provided psychosocial services, distributed donations, helped to restore family links and organized group and creative activities. The Lutheran and the Reformed Church visited the asylum seekers regularly and organised outdoor activities for the families. Menedék Association reported that the community shelter in Balassagyarmat was visited by a Lutheran pastor in 2020. Reportedly, in 2021 the pastor did not have an entry permission. In 2021, the Hungarian Red Cross distributed donations among the residents of the reception facilities.
The Cordelia Foundation provided psychosocial services to the residents of Vámosszabadi, Balassagyarmat and Fót. The Menedék Association was also present with one psychologist in Vámosszabadi and Fót until the first half of 2021 (see for more detail section on Health care).
 Section 3(1a) of Decree 52/2007.
 Information provided by NDGAP on 7 February 2022.