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UNHCR representative opposes shutdown of Hungarian refugee centers

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flickr.com/Metropolico.org, UNHCR

Hungary’s plan to shut down refugee reception centers will make it significantly more challenging for those granted asylum to integrate, according to comments made by the regional head of The United Nation’s refugee agency, the Associated Press reported yesterday. 

Montserrat Feixas Vihe, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Central Europe, noted that conditions in countries from which refugees are leaving have not changed, but it has become more difficult for them to find safety and security in Europe. 

“The need for them to flee is just as bad as last year,” Feixas Vihe told the Associated Press. “They need to seek protection and they are not able to get it here. That is a major problem.”

Feixas Vihe spoke after the opening of a photo exhibit showing refugees at Keleti Railway station last year, highlighting the thousands of refugees who moved through and camped out at the station, en route to Western European nations.

Keleti’s temporary closure in September prompted masses of refugees to march down major roadways in Budapest towards Austria, until the government provided buses to transport them to the border.

The UNHCR recently voiced criticisms of the Hungarian government’s handling of refugees earlier in June, after a border pushback allegedly resulted in the death of a 22-year-old Syrian man.

Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó referred to comments made by Zeid Raʼad Al Hussein, United Nations high commissioner for human rights, about Hungary’s treatment of refugees as an “insult to Hungary and the Hungarian people”, in a June 13 press release.

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