News

How Hungarians are welcoming refugees from Ukraine

Fedél Nélkül, a street paper like The Big Issue operating in Hungary, reports on how Hungarians have responded to the 200,000 Ukrainian refugees who have fled to their country.

Ukraine

200,000 refugees have arrived at the Ukraine-Hungary border so far. Image: Gábor Csanádi

More than two million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began and while the UK dragged its feet in welcoming refugees, surrounding nations have leapt into action. 

Over the border in Hungary, NGOs, charities and street papers have been rushing to the aid of 200,000 people from Ukraine seeking safety. 

Ukraine
Refugees arrive at an aid centre in the city of Vásárosnamény. Image: Gábor Csanádi
Ukraine
There have been offers of aid, accommodation and even jobs for Ukrainian refugees in Hungary. Image: Gábor Csanádi

Boldizsár Győri, a student at the National University of Public Service in Budapest, told the International Network of Street Papers (INSP) – a global membership group for street papers like The Big Issue – of a remarkable effort to offer help that spanned society. 

“The arrival of refugees was expected: what we saw on social media and the whispers coming from the border, every rumour, all proved to be true,” said Győri. “And immediately, the country moved as one to properly welcome those people who had witnessed the destruction of their homeland within 48 hours. 

“Public transport buses parked in front of the main train stations, where refugees could get warm. At the border, all major aid organisations have set up tents, where those who are coming over receive food, blankets and any kind of help. 

“In the first few days, taxis were replaced by volunteers who would transport the arrivals by car to the capital or to the nearest city or town for free. I took a shipment of aid with the Caritas organisation to the western Ukrainian region of Transcarpathia over the weekend. At the Hungarian side of the border, at one of the crossings, so much food was collected that it was even offered to us, otherwise the sandwiches would have gone bad.” 

Ukraine
Makeshift accommodation has been set up at the border between Ukraine and Hungary. Image: Gábor Csanádi
Ukraine
Refugees from Ukraine have fled to neighbouring countries since the Russian invasion began at the end of February. Image: Gábor Csanádi

Győri added that councils and universities have opened doors to house people who have made the journey to Hungary. 

In the city of Szolnok there are 200 places, while the University of Debrecen has offered housing for 250 people and the MOME [Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design] has offered accommodation for 100 refugees. Refugees can get free travel on public transport in Miskolc and meat processing company Kométa is offering jobs. 

Article continues below

Current vacancies...

Search jobs

Meanwhile, Fedél Nélkül, a street paper like The Big Issue that is sold by homeless people in Hungary, has been reporting how the country has united to take care of the refugees from Ukraine.

Róbert Kepe, editor-in-chief of Fedél Nélkül, added: “While helping refugees and caring for the homeless may seem like a very similar activity at first glance, it is more complex in reality. Although they are all human, aid workers have quite different problems to solve.  

“We don’t speak a common language with most refugees. They have never had to sleep in a shelter; or if they have a problem that requires medical treatment, they have to take a long and tangled path to receive care.”

“We are really proud that thousands of citizens are going to the border to help with food, clothes and kind words. 

“The whole country has united. And for all that, it is extremely awkward that our central government and political parties do the same things that we are used to: not doing effective work or starting real dialogue, but giving useless declarations. We really hope that the horrors of war will end soon.

Courtesy of the International Network of Street Papers (insp.ngo). Translated by Bernadett Berkes

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
From the NHS to levelling up: Here are all the broken promises after 14 years of Tory rule
General Election 2024

From the NHS to levelling up: Here are all the broken promises after 14 years of Tory rule

'Nature is slowly healing': How rewilding is bringing Britain's extinct species back from the dead
Conservation

'Nature is slowly healing': How rewilding is bringing Britain's extinct species back from the dead

Beat the Streets music festival funds new homes for rough sleepers: 'If we could do more, we would'
Homelessness

Beat the Streets music festival funds new homes for rough sleepers: 'If we could do more, we would'

Energy bills are set to fall but UK families have already lost £72bn to 'staggering' prices
energy bills
Energy bills

Energy bills are set to fall but UK families have already lost £72bn to 'staggering' prices

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know