my very first day on the job here in hungary my bosses gave me stacks of reading to do: articles about hungarian history, the construction of the synod building that i work in, and lots and lots of background info about the current political situation in hungary in regards to refugees and asylum seekers. these past 12 days or so have been filled with information from not just well respected newspapers, websites, and videos, but also personal conversations with my coworkers about their on-the-ground perspective.
i know that plenty of my friends and family back in the states are interested in what the political climate is like here in budapest, especially after the sudden flood of information about hungary started arriving in media outlets stateside this past summer, so i’ve tried to wrangle a few of my favorite articles and news outlets here for your benefit. read a little, read a lot, it’s completely up to you; i’ve found all of these links to be extremely helpful in getting my footing here these past few weeks. and feel free to ask questions etc in the comments section below and i’ll do my best to answer them!
here’s a link to the government of hungary’s website where they discuss the “national consultation” on immigration that they began back in april. they sent out a mailer to every citizen with a letter from the prime minister and a questionnaire filled with leading questions about how terrible immigrants / refugees / migrants / asylum seekers are (**fun fact: did you know that the government of hungary considers me in the same category with terrorists because i’m a migrant to their nation? my life in hungary haha). you can read their official statement about it and also click a link on the right to see the mailer itself that went out. (though the mailer was only sent out in hungarian, so even those asylum seekers who were lucky enough to be granted citizenship may not have been able to read it.. how exclusionary, though not surprising)
here’s a link to an anti-immigration billboard campaign that the government of hungary began after the “national consultation” this past spring.
after the billboard campaign began, citizens began to speak out and take direct action against this hostile communications strategy put forth by the hungarian government, calling it an anti-anti-immigration campaign. here’s a link to an article about how citizens fought back with satire.
this media campaign by the hungarian government has also spread to other nations as hungary tries to prevent people from coming. this article is a bit more general, but mid-way down there’s a photo of a newspaper advertisement that the government of hungary took out to try and deter more refugees from coming.
this one is an excellent interview that the reformed church in hungary did with two of their employees who have been working with refugees for years. (**spoiler alert: i also work with these people, and they’re absolutely fantastic! they have so much knowledge and expertise on the subject!)
this link is about work that hungarian reformed church aid (connected with the reformed church in hungary) did in budapest this past september when refugees were pouring into cities and camps.
here’s some background information about an overnight shelter for women and children that is currently housed at my congregation here in budapest, st. columbia’s church. this ministry is so vital and i’m thankful to be a part of a congregation that is so willing to step outside their comfort-zone and truly welcome the outsider in to a place of comfort and warmth. these people are remarkable!
there are tons of other great sources of information out there, like the english website for the reformed church in hungary (which has an entire section dedicated to news about migrants in hungary), so please, don’t stop here! keep reading, keep educating yourself, and keep asking what god is calling you to do in this time.