Refugees from Ukraine will be given the chance to travel free of charge on Budapest’s public transport network from Friday, the city’s mayor announced on Thursday. Also, from Monday, a 24-hour information centre in the Nyugati Square underpass will be available, Gergely Karácsony said.
Free travel for Ukrainian citizens who are refugees will be available until April 15. But people with Hungarian citizenship who have fled Ukraine because they do not have refugee status will not be given the same opportunity, he said, adding that the government would hopefully address this issue soon.
The mayor told MTI all children under the age of 14 from Ukraine would have free travel rights.
The metropolitan council is currently taking care of more than 200 refugees using its own budget, and it is also consulting with district councils with a view to expanding the number of refugees receiving care, he said. Concern is especially focused on Hungarians in Transcarpathia, he said.
Meeting a request by the city of Berehove (Beregszasz), the Budapest council is providing emergency aid of 20 million forints (EUR 52,620) as well as equipment and food.
Karácsony insisted the state had reacted “slowly in recent days to the situation”, while communication between the metropolitan council and the state disaster management had not been smooth, he added. Still, he said cooperation with the government was ongoing, and he cited a request for twenty buses on Thursday, which, he added, the council is acceding to.
Commenting on the government’s announcement that the wearing of masks would no longer be obligatory indoors from Monday, he said
mask-wearing would not be required on public transport in Budapest, though he advised people to carry on wearing a mask if they could.
Accommodation in Budapest and elsewhere owned by the metropolitan council will be opened up gradually, and thousands of people can be accommodated in 34 locations if needed, Ambrus Kiss, a deputy mayor, said. For people planning to stay in Hungary permanently, accommodation outside the capital will be opened gradually. Meals, medical care and travel will also be provided, he said, adding that people could find useful information and request accommodation at help.budapest.hu.