Last update: 11.01.2017
The Situation on the Southern Borders
Along the southern border, there are four transit zones: Beremend and Letenye on the Croatian borders, and Horgos / Röszke [46.1759, 19.9758] – many people from Afghanistan, and other countries – and Kelebija / Tompa [46.1672, 19.559] – many people from Syria and Iraq, and other countries – on the Serbian border. These transit zones were created in 2015, and are now the only way of entering Hungary legally and ask for asylum coming from Serbia. The transit zones are on Hungarian territory. There are many people on the Serbian side waiting to enter them.

The transit zone is inside several blue containers, surrounded by a fence, on the other side of the border fence on Hungarian territory. People have to apply for asylum in the so-called border procedure in there. Often, people are made to wait for several days inside the transit zone, before they are let out. The unofficial camp where people wait to enter the transit zone is located in front of the fence on the Serbian side.

See more information about the camp in front of the transit zone on the Serbian side in the section Serbian-Hungarian border Transit zones

Entering via the Transit Zones at the Serbian-Hungarian Border
Coming from Serbia to the Hungarian border, you will need to register your name on a list inside the official Serbian camps, including the one-stop center in Subotica. Then, you will have to wait for your turn in the official camps. The lists are hanging on the walls in these camps. The information we have on these lists is not precise: it is unclear who manages these lists and what are the criteria to get on the list are.

Vulnerable people are supposed to have priority to go inside. This means families, elderly people, disabled people, unaccompanied minors, people with illnesses or people in need of psychological help. Unfortunately there is no way to assess who is vulnerable or not in a very clear way: if your sickness is not too visible, or you are unaccompanied minor that looks like you would be 18 years old, it is difficult to be recognised as vulnerable. The people who have to wait the longest are single men.

If you have any health issue speak with the doctors or any other organisations (UNHCR, MSF) present there and explain your situation. Don’t be shy about it. Doctors go to the Serbian side of the transit zone every day. Say also if you have problems that are not physical: for instance, if you have bad memories and you cannot sleep.

When you enter the transit zone, you can apply for asylum and you will have your first interview inside the transit zone. For more information on this see the Asylum section.

Inside the zone there are state funded lawyers present every day. A lawyer from the Hungarian Helsinki Committee visits the transit zones regularly. UNHCR and SOS Children’s Village are also working in the transit zone with translators and pediatricians several times a week. There are showers and toilets inside the zone, and a place to sleep. Once you have entered the transit zone, you may go back to Serbia at any point if you do not want to continue onwards to Hungary. Beware: single men can be detained for up to 28 days in the zone. Usually families and regular cases only spend a few hours or days in the transit zone.

Entering not via Transit Zones
Since 5 July 2015, anyone caught within 8 kilometres from the border fence is sent back to the Serbian side of the fence without a chance to apply for asylum. This means, if you do not enter Hungary by the transit zones you will just be deported back immediately to Serbia. You will be given no administrative or court procedure and you will not be sent to prison. However, people often experience violence before they are deported back to Serbia. An exception to this procedure might happen, if the Hungarian police see you damaging the fence, carrying weapons or if you use any kind of violence against the police. In these situations, it could happen that they do not deport you immediately, but put you in pre-trial detention and start criminal proceedings against you.

More information about the Serbian-Hungary border: Migszol

Hungary has deployed police and soldiers to the border to keep people from entering. People have reported violent behaviour by Hungarian police and civil patrols when they crossed the border on their own. People who are caught after crossing into the country illegally are pushed back or put into detention. A lot of people report that their passport and mobile phones are taken by the police when they are detained. Many people store their personal data online in case their phone gets broken or stolen. The area between Subotica and Horgoš is the most controlled region. There is a soldier/police officer sitting in a trench every 50m along the fence. If the fence is approached an alarm will start, which consists of a noise signal and flashing lights to make people afraid.
Paramilitary/Civil Defense Groups
There have been reports of violence committed by some people wearing uniforms which can mean police officers, soldiers, field guards, vigilantes or self-organized paramilitary groups. Very often they pretend to be police but are just disguised as such. Victims have reported that they were brutally beaten and abused and then pushed back to Serbia. They said that perpetrators often used gas-spray or pepper-spray, set dogs on them, kicked and beat them, put plastic handcuffs on them and forced them through small openings in the razor wire fence, causing further injuries.

If you experience violence from police or military forces, you can report it to the Helsinki Committee lawyer collective via a Facebook message:

Hungarian Helsinki Committee / Magyar Helsinki Bizottság
If you would like to stay in Hungary and have applied for asylum, please read the updated information on the asylum procedures in Hungary by following one of these links:
Many people who have travelled through Serbia and would like to continue their journey through Hungary come through the transit zone at the serbo-hungarian border near Subotica. When you enter the transit zone, you can apply for asylum. If you enter via another passage through the fence illegally and get caught, even though it is your right to do so, the police will not allow you to apply for asylum and usually push you back to Serbia.
Asylum claim rejected in the Transit Zone
If you get a negative decision after your first interview, it is very important to appeal against the decision. You have seven days to do this. The appeal is fairly simple; usually when the negative decision is delivered an officer from the Hungarian Office of Immigration and Nationality (OIN) will ask if you want to appeal or not. If you want to appeal then you will have to sign a form. Because one of the reasons for getting a negative decision could be that Hungary says that you are coming from a safe country (Serbia), it is good to write something about why Serbia is not safe for you, so that the Court can read this.

If your appeal is not successful, you will be let out the door of the transit zone, back to the Serbian side.

Open Camps
Some of the people entering Hungary through the transit zones are sent to open camps in Kormend, Vamosszabadi or Kiskunhalas. Please note that Kormend is a tent camp. For an overview of the camps click here.

After arriving in the camp (or within 2 weeks) you should receive a police card that allows you to travel within Hungary, to buy a SIM card, and receive money with Western Union. Never leave the camp without this police card otherwise they can send you to the closed camp/ detention center. Everybody needs to go back to the camp every day and guards check the bar codes on the camp cards for that. If someone is gone for too long there is the possibility that guards don’t let them in anymore.

Closed Camps/Detention Centers
A closed camp is the same as a detention center in Hungary. It is difficult to say who exactly is brought to the closed camps, because the procedure is very arbitrary. Some people are sent to a closed camp after they applied for asylum at the transit zone. If you say at the border that you want to go to Germany, or if they unsure of your identity or nationality, you can be put into detention. People can be kept in the detention centers for up to six months but it also can happen that they are released earlier. If you do not apply for asylum when you enter Hungary, you will be in a different form of detention for much longer period of time. If you are held in the closed camp should try to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee’s lawyers visits all detention facilities at least once a week.

For more contacts in Hungary see
In Hungary, fingerprints are always taken, even if you do not apply for asylum. If you have given your fingerprints to authorities in Hungary and you don’t stay there but continue your journey, you might get threatened to be deported back to Hungary in the EU country where you apply for asylum. However, there are actually very few deportations to Hungary from other EU countries happening at the moment.

If you continue your journey onwards from Hungary and apply for asylum in another EU country, please look at the information about Dublin III on the website [for example if you are in Germany see].

more information: