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EU Must Take Action to End Shame of Children in Cages in Hungary – Gavan

13 November, 2018 - by Paul Gavan

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has called on EU Leaders to take immediate steps to end the shame of children imprisoned in cages in Hungary.

Senator Gavan was speaking after a Council of Europe visit to the Roszke Transit Zone along the Hungarian Serbian border where he witnessed first-hand the shocking imprisonment of children in Industrial Containers while they waited for asylum applications to be considered by the Hungarian authorities.

Senator Gavan said:

“I was staggered and sickened by what I saw and witnessed in the Roszke Internment Camp today. The detention Centre consists of rows of industrial containers which have been divided and cordoned off into cages surrounded by barbed wire. The inmates are kept in these small caged areas and are not allowed leave them at any time unless they are willing to give up their asylum application.

“What was particularly distressing was meeting three young teenagers from Afghanistan who have spent weeks locked up in these cages without any break whatsoever. One 14 year old had been imprisoned for six months, trapped within a small 30x 40 meter cage.

“I spoke to a UNHCR Representative who told me first hand of the damage this incarceration is doing to these children in terms of mental stress, anxiety, and depression. Some children, including one that I met, have tried to self-harm in a cry for help.

“The callous attitude of the Hungarian Government to these children is nothing short of disgusting. When I spoke to a government official about the disgraceful conditions meted out to these children, he started disputing how old the teenager was rather than acknowledge the horror of what is going on in Hungary just now.”

Senator Gavan called for immediate EU action to end the shame of Immigration Detention of Unaccompanied Minors in Hungary, and called on Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney in particular to take a stand on the issue;

“The Hungarian Government Party Fidesz are a sister party of Fine Gael. Both parties belong to the European People’s Party (EPP) Group in the European Parliament. It is incumbent on Fine Gael to use its influence within the EPP to ensure an immediate end to the practice of imprisoning children. Otherwise, they should insist that Fidesz be thrown out of the EPP without delay.

“The attitude of Fidesz Government Spokespersons today was appalling. One man mocked a monument to those who had fought against Fascism as we walked towards the Hungarian Parliament. Within the parliament, the Chairperson of the Defence Committee of the National Assembly, referring to migrants trying to enter the country, told Council of Europe Delegates that ‘when someone climbs over the fence, we let the dog deal with that’.

“There is a spectre haunting Europe again today. It is the spectre of Fascism, and that is what I have witnessed here in Hungary.” 

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