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The Important Difference Between Ukrainian Refugees And Illegal Migrants

Migration aficionados and liberal expert groups are driving a new storyline that compares Ukrainian refugees fleeing war in our neighborhood to the violent, rock-throwing mob of illegal migrants routinely besieging our southern borders.

While in most cases the term “discrimination” means treating similar or identical phenomena differently, there is, in fact, a second layer to its definition, one that’s often overlooked. It’s the handling of things that are significantly different in a similar manner.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor commits the same mistake when, in an article entitled “Hungary’s Pushbacks Of Non-Ukrainian Asylum Seekers Akin To Migratory Apartheid,” it calls upon the Hungarian government to take in migrants arriving on our southern border the same way we have welcomed now 700,000 refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Since 2015, the beginning of the migration crisis, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his governments have pursued a migration policy that respects all international regulations and standards, as everyone whose asylum claim is positively ruled upon by Hungarian authorities can obtain refugee status in Hungary. The process is simple: Asylum claims can be submitted through Hungarian embassies in neighboring countries. If the asylum is granted, refugees may enter Hungary.

There is, however, one important detail when deciding on asylum. According to most internationally endorsed legal sources, asylum seekers are supposed to request asylum in the first safe country they reach. Hungary fully adheres to this principle. So, for example, when a national of Bangladesh appears on the landlocked border of Hungary, a degree of reasonable suspicion arises.

Any reasonable person would agree that the situation of a large group of predominantly Afghan and Syrian young men arriving from the distant Middle East on the Hungary-Serbia border is significantly different from women and children escaping danger in neighboring Ukraine. For them, Hungary is the first safe country they reach, and it is our moral duty to treat them accordingly.

Hungary’s migration and refugee policy is therefore not “akin to migratory apartheid.” It’s a system that fully respects international migration rules and, most importantly, is rooted in common sense.

Zoltán Kovács, PhD

Hungarian Secretary of State for International Communication, International Spokesman

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