I listened this morning to an interview with Michael Ignatieff. He was mostly talking about the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

At some point (14:55 in the podcast (in French)), while he was discussing about the roots of the current anti-immigration political stance of the country, he mentioned that

There was in 2015 something unforgettable: one million of immigrants arrived within a week (...)

Hungary population is about 10 million, so one million is certainly not a planned arrival. Why did this happen? Is it because the country was open and not ready to close borders? Or because it expected less? Or something else?

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    Was it really one million? – Andrew Grimm Mar 14 '19 at 9:24
  • @AndrewGrimm: if this is a question for me - I have no idea. I quoted someone who is at least supposed to be knowledgeable but what surprised me is that for such a massive population immigration (or transit) nothing was done in the country ahead of time to prevent it. I am not arguing whether it is good otr bad to do anything - it is more the "why it was let to happen" which intrigues me (whether this was a lack of planning, or a miscalculation of the scale, or something else happened) – WoJ Mar 14 '19 at 10:36
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    The actual number is 411,857 in whole of 2015. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… for numbers (which used some Hungarian site as source, but I can't read Hungarian) – Sjoerd Mar 14 '19 at 22:17
  • In 2015, around a million migrants arrived in Europe.
  • A significant number of them walked or hitchhiked from south-eastern Europe to north-western Europe.
  • In September 2015, a significant number of these migrants were sheltering in the Budapest railway station, causing a humanitarian crisis. Germany decided to relieve the crisis by processing refugee applications which should have been handled elsewhere according to the Dublin regulation.
  • The height of this humanitarian crisis was a few weeks, perhaps months. There were migrants during the rest of the year as well.
  • The German actions have been interpreted by different parties as "inviting refugees into Europe" or as "solving the crisis in Hungary, Greece, and places in between." We might get an answer in the history books, a couple of decades from now.

Summarized, a large number of migrants but less than a million passed through Hungary. Hungary did not cope well. Most went on to Germany, which ran through some rough spots coping as well.


Well, there wasn't, as far as I can tell.

Pew reports 1.3m refugees to Europe in total in 2015. Hungary received 174,000 asylum applications. Apparently only 146 were granted.

not a planned arrival.

Refugees are, by definition, not planned arrivals. There's no real way to know if people are coming other than intelligence reports, especially if they made an undocumented entry into the previous country on the route (Serbia).

not ready to close borders?

They did after a while, and started constructing a fence.

What I'm not clear on is what the trigger event in the Syrian war was for all this. It's possible that they were being expelled from Turkey instead.


It's because Hungary is part of the shortest overland route from Syria to Germany.

The mass migration of 2015 was headed to Germany and to a lesser degree Sweden, largely because they had the most generous benefits package to refugees, and the least restrictive refugee policies. To get there from Syria, on foot or by motor transportation, the shortest route goes through Hungary.

The refugees were just passing through, but one million people just passing through a nation of 10 million will place quite a burden on that country, especially if its current national budget does not have much leeway for an unexpected expense of that magnitude.

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    Considering how much misinformation got spread regarding the refugee topic (from all political directions) it would be good to back up answers to this question with reliable data and not just rely on information "everybody knows". – Philipp Mar 14 '19 at 9:15

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