26 Sep 2017

By refusing support to refugees we are giving it to populists instead

This is the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII but populist governments are using it as a political tool.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
By refusing support to refugees we are giving it to populists instead - NewsMavens
Syrian refugees queue at the border between Hungary and Austria. Mstyslav Chernov/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Why this story matters:

These kids don’t cry. You can treat their wounds but they won’t complain, even though they see you for the first time. It is like as if they're not present: neither their body, nor their soul...

This tragic summary of the mental state of refugee children was made by a Hungarian pediatrician, who has been treating refugees as a volunteer since the migration crisis reached Hungary.

Her words are striking.

This is the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII but populist governments are using it as a political tool. European leaders who once praised international treaties that protect refugees are now trying to dehumanise migrants, portraying them as masses that are trying to invade Europe. They'll do anything just to gain political capital.

The Hungarian government has not been an example of humanity during the refugee crisis. It seems that the Hungarian leadership has forgotten how the international community welcomed and helped Hungarian refugees who fled the country and communist oppression after the revolution of 1956. As a member of the European Union, the current right-wing government has several obligations, which include providing health care to those that need it most.

Thousands risk their lives by fleeing their war-torn homes. They often need physical and mental help. Especially children, many of whom are forced to leave everything behind and take the dangerous journey all by themselves. These minors need special care, otherwise, they will be part of a lost generation.

Details from the story:

  • According to UNICEF, there have never been so many refugee children in the world. There are currently 4-5 million people fleeing their homes, 60% of them are women and children.
  • In 2017, Hungarian authorities processed 970 asylum applications of minors, 141 for unaccompanied minors. Most children came from war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Two Hungarian pediatricians, Zsuzsanna Kovacs and Judit Mogyoros have been treating refugees as volunteers since the crisis hit Hungary. They treat everyone, regardless of their legal status. The doctors have busted the myth spread by many (including the Hungarian government), which say that refugees could bring rare diseases to the country.
  • Do refugee children receive the required medical assistance they need in Hungary? Only in theory, according to the pediatricians. But the Hungarian health care system has many shortcomings.
  • Those who are in Hungary legally -- and have documents proving their refugee status or subsidiary protection -- are entitled to state-funded health care for 6 months for adults and for children, for as long as they are in the country.
  • But they need to have an address in order to get on a GP waiting list. Problem is that most landlords are reluctant to let their real estate to refugees, therefore many adults only get to get medical check-ups as 'homeless'.There have been cases of mistreatment.
  • The pediatricians remember one unaccompanied minor who was brought to hospital because the doctor suspected he had a kidney stone. The child didn’t speak any foreign languages, and the legal guardian appointed by the state signed the papers that authorised an operation without hesitation. The chaotic situation resulted in one of his kidneys being completely removed.

Needless to say -- those who are illegally in the country are not entitled to any sort of medical treatment.

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Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

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