Border region visit (Nábrád - Záhony - Berkesz) - NJBH-EN
Border region visit (Nábrád - Záhony - Berkesz)
The Minority Ombudsman, the Deputy State Secretary Katalin Victor Langerné and Government Commissioner Attila Sztojka visited three settlements in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County, where they learned about the situation of Roma people fleeing from Ukraine, the services and challenges they face.
The Minority Ombudsman, Deputy State Secretary Katalin Victor Langerné and Government Commissioner Attila Sztojka started their day-long visit in the village of Nábrád in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County, where they were able to gain insight into the tasks, challenges and solutions facing local governments, as well as the helpful attitude of local residents, through the example of the integration of a Roma group fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Visitors were welcomed by Mayor Ferenc Dávid Soltész and Notary Éva Koncz-Badacsonyi, who gave a detailed account of their experiences over the past month and a half. In February, the school's sports hall was designated as a shelter by the Disaster Management Department, accommodating nearly 50 people from Berehovo, including 33 minor Roma refugees. Their complex care – including accommodation, meals, cleaning, health care and related administrative tasks – is provided by the municipality with the involvement of its institutions and staff, with the support of the local population. The district office provides a social worker, the local ÉFOÉSZ provides expertise, the school provides an educational environment and games, and well-intentioned citizens from all over Hungary help the refugees' daily lives with donations. However, in addition to the welcoming atmosphere and active presence, there are challenges in arranging and managing the official status of the families, preparing applications for state aid, advancing the necessary funds, the administration related to employment and health care, and the long-term difficulty of providing infrastructure.
After the talk, Marianna Szarkáné Orosz, director of the Bornemisza Géza Primary School, presented the institution and the sports hall that serves as accommodation. Visitors were given a personal tour of the refugee accommodation and then had a long talk with the leader and members of the Roma community about the history of their flight, their current situation, the challenges they face and their short and long-term plans.
The Minority Ombudsman, the Deputy State Secretary and the Government Commissioner highlighted the importance of gaining experience of the first administrative and humanitarian care of refugees arriving directly from the border, in addition to learning about the local activities of municipalities in hosting refugees in Ukraine. Záhony, which in many ways is in a special situation, provided an excellent opportunity for this.
Mayor László Helmeczi, Head of the Záhony District Office Szilvia Halászné Laskai and Police Lieutenant Gyula Czifra, Head of the Záhony Border Police reported on the experiences on the spot. The settlement of almost 4,200 inhabitants is located on the Hungarian-Ukrainian-Slovak triple border, and since the outbreak of the war it has been the main crossing point for refugees by road and especially by rail. In the past, typically 2,000 people a day, but nowadays, due to the reorganisation of the battlefield, fewer refugees typically arrive in Záhony, numbering between 300 and 500. They are received by the Police, the Disaster Management and the National Directorate General for Aliens Policing, day and night, seven days a week, and after verification of their identity, the border crossing process and registration, they are provided with documents and, if necessary, suitable accommodation is arranged. Until their onward journey, their social care is provided by the local government at the local railway station and in temporary accommodation, with the continuous assistance of the International Red Cross, the Hungarian Reformed Charity Service and some 80-100 national and international volunteers.
Záhony is constantly receiving donations from all over the country, mainly food, clothing, medicine, hygiene equipment and baby care products. In addition, 11 truckloads of donations were also transported from Záhony to Ukraine, with more than 240 tons of cargo.
The Minority Ombudsman was also informed in detail about the process of issuing documents on beneficiary of temporary protection status and applying for asylum status, the information provided, the situation of unaccompanied minors, the collection points, the humanitarian assistance on the ground and the experience of certain critical situations, with a special focus on the reception of a higher number of Roma refugees.
The third stop of the visit was the Berkesz Development Centre of the Directorate General for Social Empowerment. Here, the participants were introduced to a special form of care, the treatment and care of Ukrainian refugees infected with Covid, and were welcomed by Ildikó Gerő, Director of the Social Opportunity Directorate of North Great Plain, Attila Szidor, Mayor of Berkesz and Rita Molnárné Ferkó, Head of the Kemecse District Office.
The site, which was fully renovated in 2015, was designated by the Disaster Management for the complex care of refugees identified as Covid infected during the border crossing. After the necessary modifications for disease control, the capacity of the facility was increased to a maximum of 40 people, which was fixed by a decision of the Government Office. Examination and medical surveillance of border arrivals are carried out by resident doctors and specialist nurses under a service contract, who often also work on a voluntary basis to ensure continuity of care. The necessary medical equipment and medicines are donated, with the Demecser GP centre and Nyíregyháza hospital providing back-up for patients in poorer health. Specialist services are provided 24 hours a day, as well as meals and basic needs.
Up to the day of the visit, 56 people, mostly women and children, had used the service at this site. In the temporary quarantine, the care is for 5 days, if the beneficiary is still negative, it can be changed to 7 days. Staff highlighted in particular the specialised nature of the care and the human challenges: most of the people arriving here have experienced severe war trauma and are in poor general health. The language barrier and cultural differences mean that staff here have to exercise much deeper forms of empathy and humanity, while also ensuring full compliance with disease control measures. The mayor of the municipality also attaches importance to the special programme for refugees, which he continues to support with the means at his disposal.