Annual international conference of the Hungarian Contact Point of the European Migration Network

On 28 November 2023, the annual English-language international conference of the Hungarian Contact Point of the European Migration Network (EMH) took place on the topic "The effects of the war in Ukraine on migration in Hungary". Within the framework of the conference, experts from Hungary and other Member States, as well as representatives of international organizations, discussed the migration consequences of the war in Ukraine on Hungary, focusing on the border situation, the reception of persons enjoying temporary protection, the special situation of Ukrainian-Hungarian dual citizens, and the future prospects problems of the crisis on Hungarian and EU level.


The event was opened by Judit Tóth, Deputy State Secretary responsible for EU Development Coordinatio, on behalf of the Ministry of the Interior.


In the keynote presentation of the conference, Norbert Pál, the government commissioner responsible for persons fleeing the Russian-Ukrainian war to Hungary, presented Hungary's efforts in the assistance of Ukraine and persons fleeing from Ukraine. He emphasized that persons fleeing Ukraine will receive adequate protection in Hungary as long as necessary. The involvement of beneficiaries of temporary protection in the labor market and in public education is ongoing,  the Ukrainian minority municipalities provide significant assistance in this regard. Hungary also provides large-scale humanitarian aid directly to Ukraine.

After that, the first panel discussion of the conference took place, which examined the migratiory effects of the war in Ukraine on Hungary. The expert participants of the panel were László Balázs p. colonel (Hungarian Police), Gyula Mikolicz (General Directorate of the National Immigration Police) and Ferenc Urbán (Central Statistical Office). Presenting the latest available statistics, the participants agreed that the vast majority of people fleeing from Ukraine to Hungary do not stay in Hungary in the long term (only 40,000 people who entered the country and claimed to be fleeing the war requested temporary protection). This is due to the transit nature of Hungary on the one hand, and the lack of a significant Ukrainian diaspora on the other. The number of Ukrainians residing in Hungary with other legal statuses did not increase either, and in fact, has shown a smaller decrease since 2022. In contrast, the number of Hungarian citizens born in Ukraine (in Zakarpattia Oblast) has nearly tripled in the last ten years, and as a result of the war, the trend is expected to accelerate.

The second panel discussion of the conference looked at the protection needs of people who fled Ukraine to Hungary - especially vulnerable groups - with the participation of UNHCR representative Stephanie Woldenberg and UNICEF expert Edina Tordai. The representative of the Maltese Charity Service was unable to participate in the panel discussion due to illness. The participants emphasized that the vast majority of those fleeing Ukraine are women and minors, so they are particularly vulnerable. The two organizations primarily provide assistance in providing them with information, in making appropriate use of the services provided to them, and in eliminating the practical and language barriers that arise, in cooperation with the Hungarian authorities.

In the framework of the last panel of the conference, the longer-term prospects of the migration crisis arising from the war situation were reviewed at the Hungarian and EU level. Martin Wagner, ICMPD expert, said that although the temporary protection regime could not be extended after March 2025, due to its logic, EU Member States are expected to find a way to continue applying it, depending on the evolution of the war situation. The removal of the temporary protection regime would place a significant burden on the asylum systems of the Member States, and the transfer of those enjoying such protection to other legal statuses would result in many practical problems. Brigitta Kocsy, IOM expert, presented the results of the organization’s surveys on the long-term plans of people who fled Ukraine (Displacement Tracking Matrix). According to the IOM's assessment, the majority of those fleeing Ukraine would return permanently to the country if the security situation allowed it. Currently, however, the majority of refugees prefer to stay in the host countries, but they do not necessarily plan to stay there in the long term, which is also confirmed by labor market and public education data. Róbert Gönczi, a researcher at the Migration Research Institute, said that various estimates place the number of people who fled to Hungary as a result of the war in Ukraine and are permanently staying in Hungary between 50,000 and 100,000. According to his assessment, the crisis was properly handled by the Hungarian authorities and civil organizations, and the long-term reception of those staying here is also effective.