Last week we prepared for an urgent injunction application to prevent a Somali client’s deportation to Hungary. Instead, we obtained a last minute undertaking from the Department of Justice that the deportation would not be carried out at least until mid January.
The case is somewhat unusual as it is not yet in the public domain that asylum seekers and refugees returned/deported to Hungary risk destitution. The case also highlights the potential for a second waive of cases similiar to the "Greek Transfer" cases , but this time in respect of Hungary .
Our client is a Somali national against whom a deportation order has recently been issued on the basis that he had previously been granted refugee status in Hungary. However, on obtaining status in Hungary, out client received no accommodation or social assistance in any form. Unable to speak Hungarian, he found no possibility of gaining employment. This, coupled with no access to welfare support led him to become destitute and homeless. He had no means to pay for accommodation, food or other basic subsistence requirements. He, along with other Somali nationals, slept rough on the streets, and relied on local mosques in Budapest to supply food and blankets. Due to this lifestyle and particularly in such a climate as Hungary, he became very ill. The situation was so dire that he felt forced to return to Somalia at the end of 2006 and was able to do so due to his family’s assistance.
As the situation in Somalia worsened in 2007 and 2008, and our client and his family were subjected to many attacks by the local militia, he was tortured and most of his immediate family were murdered. He thus fled Somalia again, and entered Ireland to claim asylum. Three years later, he now faces deportation back to Hungary. We are currently urgently seeking an injunction to stay any deportation which may occur. We do so appealing to protection grounds pursuant to the Refugee Act 1996, the UN Convention Against Torture, the European Convention of Human Rights and humanitarian grounds of the Immigration Act 1999.
In particular, we are relying on a 2012 UNHCR Report called “Refugee Homelessness in Hungary” details the dire situation ongoing for Somali refugees in Hungary. This report corroborates fully the fear of our client that he would again be rendered destitute if returned to Hungary. Of particular relevance to our particular client, the report outlines those refugees who have continued onto other EU Member States and who were forcibly returned as those at greatest risk. Furthermore, the report identifies Somali nationals as the group at most risk of homelessness in Hungary.
“Caught in a vicious circle of hopelessness and without any examples of successful integration among Somali refugees in Hungary, most research respondents opt for onward movement to other European counties. Inadvertedly punished with homlessness and hunger as a result of exercising freedom of movement and without access to an adequate level of community based-support services in Budapest, a number declared their intention to engage in repeat onward movement…” (Ch.3 Para.2)
We consider the above report to be of substantial weight as it has recently been relied upon in Austrian Courts to prohibit the state from returning refugees and asylum seekers alike to Hungary.
The denial of any welfare service to asylum seekers, thus causing a situation of destitution was found to amount to a breach of Article 3 of the ECHR in the UK decision of R (Limbuela) v Home Secretary Of State for the Home Department .
Similarly in M.S.S. V Belgium and Greece  the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights determined that the poor living conditions and detention facilities for asylum seekers in Greece amounted to inhumane and degrading treatment, thus any transfer to Greece would effect a breach of the Applicant’s rights under Article 3. This judgement was ground breaking, in that it was the first time a Member State of the EU has been found to be actively operating an asylum system that amounts is effectively “Inhumane and degrading treatment” for asylum seekers. The consequence of the M.S.S. case was a large amount of injunctions being granted by various courts with the Member States to prohibit “Greek transfers”.
The situation concerning refugees in Hungary, particularly returning Somalis, is such to mirror the situation decided upon in Greece.