Council of Europe delegation inspects Hungary transit zones
A Council of Europe delegation has arrived in Hungary to inspect the living conditions of 14-18-year-old migrants in Hungary’s transit zones near the southern border towns of Röszke and Tompa.
Claude Janizzi, who heads the CoE’s Lanzarote Committee and is in charge of the delegation, told a press conference on Wednesday that the delegation had been invited by the Hungarian government to verify child protection measures put in place in the transit zones.
Janizzi said that after enquiring about the government’s efforts to protect unaccompanied migrant children in the transit zones, the committee had been told that 14-18 year-olds are assured legal assistance and are continuously helped by social workers. They are given three meals a day, have access to medical care, are given clothes, receive education and are ensured the freedom to practise their religions.
He said the Lanzarote Committee had been concerned about the situation in Hungary’s transit zones because it had been told that unaccompanied minors aged 14-18 were being counted as adults and treated accordingly. The committee acknowledges Hungarian efforts in recent years, but is concerned that migrant minors, who are in a difficult situation to begin with, could fall prey to sexual exploitation in the transit zones, he added.
He said protective measures for children should be increased rather than cut back.
The five-member delegation is on a three-day visit to Hungary. It will meet the ombudsman for fundamental rights as well as representatives of the Ministry of Human Resources, the Immigration and Asylum Office, the United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and civil groups.
The committee will compile a report on its findings which it will later publish, Janizzi said.
The Lanzarote Committee oversees compliance with the Lanzarote Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation.