EU and UN criticize Hungary for local treatment of Roma and border fence plans
On 16 June, politics.hu reported that EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said the Miskolc council's recent moves with respect to the housing of Romani people contravene both the EU's Roma Integration Framework Strategy and Hungary's own Roma Strategy. The Commissioner made the statement in response to a written question submitted by MEP Péter Niedermüller (Democratic Coalition) in March.
Niedermüller informed Jourova that Miskolc plans to eliminate a particular neighborhood and is offering compensation to its local residents, mostly Roma, on the condition that they move away from Miskolc entirely. After many of the affected people declined the offer, the council began cancelling their leases, citing outstanding payments as the reason.
Approximately 150 families were at risk of being forcibly evicted, according to Niedermüller. News server Romea.cz reported in May that the terms included not just leaving Miskolc, but promising not to return for five years.
On 19 June, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Cécile Pouilly issued a statement saying that her office is "deeply concerned" about Hungary's announcement that it is preparing to build a fence on its border with Serbia. Pouilly said the measure could prevent asylum seekers in need of international protection from reaching Hungarian territory.
"Such harsh border enforcement measures may also force migrants to adopt more risky routes and modes of transport, putting them at greater risk of abuse by traffickers and smugglers," Pouilly said. "We have noted in the past the need for European governments to display leadership and compassion in their migration policies."
The spokesperson also expressed concern that the Hungarian Government is officially disseminating anti-migrant, xenophobic rhetoric through a billboard campaign supposedly targeting immigrants and warning them not to take jobs away from Hungarians. "Such assertions contradict the evidence, which is that migrants – particularly low-skilled migrants - are needed in European labor markets, doing the difficult jobs that no one else wants to do. On 22 May, we publicly criticized a questionnaire on immigration sent by the Government to its citizens in which unfounded links were sought... between migration and terrorism," Pouilly said.
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