Hungary citizens vote on EU refugee referendum News
Hungary citizens vote on EU refugee referendum

Hungarian citizens gathered on Sunday to vote on a European Union (EU) [official website] referendum regarding the relocation of refugees and migrants among member states. The proposed plan seeks [Al Jazeera report] to share 160,000 asylum seekers throughout the 28-member bloc through imposition of mandatory quotas. Under the mandatory quota system, Hungary would receive less than 1,300 asylum seekers. However, the country’s right-wing government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban [BBC profile], has expressed strong opposition to the plan. Opinion polls have also shown Hungarian opposition to the proposal among those voting. Those in support of the EU plan have stated they fear the government’s media campaign against the plan has stoked the fires of xenophobia within the nation, driven by a ‘covert’ anti-Islam message. According to a 2011 census [Hungary census website], approximately 5,600 Muslims currently reside in Hungary.

The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issues around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. Ahead of the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants this week, UN experts urged [JURIST report] states to protect women and girls in the movement of refugees and migrants by adhering to international human rights conventions and standards. Last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy websites] said that the draft of the final outcome document for the UN summit on refugees fell short of dealing with the issue effectively [JURIST report]. According to the rights groups, the UN is missing an opportunity by not proposing anything of substance. Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said [JURIST report] earlier this month that Austria will take Hungary to the International Court of Justice if Hungary does not begin accepting returning migrants that crossed into Austria from Hungary. Last month the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein [official profile] expressed concern [JURIST report] over Bulgaria’s criminalization of migrants leaving and entering the country.