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5 Facts About the Hunger in Hungary
While Hungary is a thriving country, the nation still struggles with feeding its people. Here are five facts about Hunger in Hungary.

5 Facts About Hunger in Hungary

  1. In Hungary, more than 40,000 children go without sufficient nourishment. For every 1,000 children, 6.1 die before their fifth birthday. Although the issue of hunger is indisputable, discussing the topic is considered taboo, and many fail to address it.
  2. Half a million children live in poverty in Hungary. There are three different types of hunger — children being unable to afford food is the first. Another kind of hunger is the lack of a quality diet. The third type of hunger occurs when the child is deprived of the proper nutrients while in the womb. This hunger occurs when the mother is not eating properly and healthily. Lack of nutrition for the mother and fetus can result in premature birth, and sometimes maternal mortality.
  3. According to the report of the Hungarian UNICEF Child Welfare Committee, the international deprivation index states that every other Hungarian child is deemed deprived.
  4.  More than half of Hungary’s area lies in the Great Plain. Although the soil is fertile, most of the region lacks adequate rainfall and is prone to drought, requiring extensive irrigation. Hungarians mainly harvest corn, wheat, sugar beets, potatoes and rye. The economy in Hungary is thriving, but the hunger in Hungary is still a large problem. The country exports most of its crops, when they could be used to feed the people at home. The rate of poverty among single-earner households was 10 percent in 2005. In 2014, it reached 25 percent.
  5. Fortunately, few children actually die of hunger in the country. The government provides cheap or free meals in nurseries, pre-schools and schools for 370,000 children in need. Hunger in Hungary is a problem that schools take very seriously, and administrations are sure that no child leaves school needing food.

Hungary is working to solve its hunger problem through schools, community programs and government involvement. The hunger in Hungary is making slow continuous progress, and the improvement shows considerable hope that the problem will be eradicated.

Rilee Pickle

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Hungary
Hungary is a landlocked nation snuggled among seven other countries in Eastern Europe. Its capital is Budapest, a tourist spot well-known for its luxurious bathhouses. Even amid all the luxury and tourism, Hungary struggles with poverty. While it is comical in English that the namesake of this nation sounds like hungry, hunger in Hungary is no laughing matter.

Half a million children in Hungary live in poverty and over 40,000 of them are starving. The government of Hungary provides cheap or free meals in nurseries and schools for 370,000 children. However, these government-sponsored meals are only provided on school days; many children go to sleep hungry on weekends and holidays.

According to the Children’s Nutrition Fund (CNF), “it is the mission of GYEA (CNF of Hungary) to provide children in need with food when school cafeterias are closed.” Ongoing programs like the Food Aid Program have distributed more than 50 million pounds of food for those in need over the past seven years. In addition to this program, parents of children in need can get involved in a sponsorship program called “Chin Up!” This program provides poor families with monthly allowances if they keep a diary for their sponsors and provide invoices proving that the money was spent on feeding the family.

These programs are fighting to stop hunger in Hungary, and yet there are still issues to overcome. According to the report of the Hungarian United Nations International Children’s Emergency (UNICEF) Child Welfare Committee, every other Hungarian child is deemed deprived. That’s one in two. The children denoted are those that “do not receive food at least three times a day, do not have new clothes, never get to go on holiday or for whom there is no place to study in their home.”

The Hungarian government thus needs to continue establishing appropriate policies in order to prevent poverty levels from increasing.

Karyn Adams

Photo: Flickr


Hungary offers free state education to all children residing in the country. Education in Hungary is more traditional than other systems and focuses on many areas in various industries in order to prepare students for life after full-time education.

From the ages of five to 16, Hungarian children are required by law to attend full-time education. Most schools are funded by the state, with private schools charging fees that are subsidized by the government. Education in Hungary is based highly on tradition, which lies at the heart of the system. Prior to examinations in the final years of secondary education, there is a famous “Ribbon Consecration,” with a final party at the end of school where traditional college songs are sung. It is compulsory to spend eight years in full-time education and two more years in high school, vocational school, or trade school.

A third of students choose to continue with vocational education after graduating from secondary school. There are three types of vocational schools: technician training, skilled-worker training, and middle vocational school. Students graduate from vocational education with a double qualification and a “Mantura,” meaning university entrance, and qualify as a skilled worker.

Vocational colleges differentiate from vocational schools. Vocational colleges offer more specialized courses, for example, in health or stereography. Each course lasts three years and final exams are taken at the end. If passed, students receive their diploma.

Another post-secondary school option is to attend a trade school. It lasts three to four years, with limited theoretic content, and involves a work placement. Students can only attend trade school if they have secured work placement, provided either by the school or through a specific company.

As a nation, Hungary is known to be very welcoming to refugees and asylum-seekers, accepting more than 480,000 refugees over the past few years. Education in Hungary is offered to any child residing in the country free of charge, according to the Public Education Act, meaning that refugee children have the same rights as Hungarian students. There is difficulty with integrating refugees with students, as there are limited spaces in schools, but this is resolved with special preparatory classes that are offered.

Education in Hungary is easily accessible for all, with every opportunity being open to students of any nationality. Different areas of training prepare students for working life and enable them to learn key skills within industries.

Georgia Boyle

Photo: Flickr

Anti-Refugee Sentiment
On October 2, Viktor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, held a nationwide referendum to address growing anti-refugee sentiment. Orban asked the question, “Do you want the European Union, even without the approval of the Hungarian parliament, to be able to prescribe the mandatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary?”

Resoundingly, 98 percent of voters backed the government’s opposition to the EU refugee acceptance quotas, even though Hungary would only have to accept 1,300 of the 160,000 refugees taken into consideration by the distribution plan. Although voter turnout was only around 43 percent, the rejection of refugees and belief in their inherent dangers is no anomaly.

Anti-refugee and anti-Muslim sentiment is spreading across Europe, especially in the wake of major terrorist attacks in Brussels, Paris, Nice and the everyday acts of violence consistently occurring throughout Europe. Opposition to refugees also heavily fueled the Brexit vote.

Within the Visegrád Group, an alliance of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, refusal to accept refugees is at its peak. The Czech Republic and Hungary have only accepted 520 and 146 refugees respectively in the last year, a drop in the ocean of millions needing asylum.

In 2015, Hungary also built a heavily guarded, razor wired fence along its southern border to control the flood of migrants into Hungary. Many have criticized the country for treating refugees “worse than wild animals;” some have even called for Hungary to be temporarily or permanently expelled from the EU for its behavior.

Even in more accepting countries like France and Germany, growing fear and misunderstanding have lead to more anti-refugee and anti-Muslim policies. More than 20 French mayors have refused to lift their bans on the “burkini,” a full body swimsuit worn mainly by Muslim women, even though the national court system has deemed the ban unconstitutional.

Even in Germany, the biggest proponent of refugee acceptance, anti-refugee sentiment has spread. After several regional elections went to the far-right, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, plans to take a step back from her heavily controversial open-door refugee policy.

Although the current situation for many refugees may seem bleak, the future may well be brighter. Even after several devastating attacks in France, French president Francois Hollande is still holding firmly to his open refugee acceptance policy. In Syria and Iraq, as well, the end seems to be near. After capturing Fallujah, allied forces have now moved on -to Raqqa, the ISIS capital, and Mosul. The U.S. and EU can now begin to rebuild infrastructure and resettle the remaining refugees.

Henry Gao

Photo: Flickr

Migration Flows
The dangerous Mediterranean journey that many migrants take from North Africa and the Middle East in order to reach Southern Europe has been well-reported in the media, with countless news stories chronicling the boatloads of immigrants who die attempting the treacherous voyage. Second to the Mediterranean route, but far less covered, however, is what is known as “the Western Balkan route”—which 40% percent of migrants use in order to cross into Europe. Many using the Balkan route are Syrians and Afghans who take boats from Turkey, or elsewhere, to Greece, where they then walk for thousands of miles through Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and finally Hungary, in order to attempt to then cross over into affluent Western European countries, such as bordering Austria.

In recent weeks, however, the “Western Balkan route” has gained unprecedented attention thanks to plans by the Hungarian government to erect a 4-meter (13-foot) wall along Hungary’s 109-mile border with Serbia, which they hope will prevent incoming flows of Syrian and Afghan refugees into the country.

Moves by the Hungarian Parliament to construct the wall, which began on Monday, June 15, come following Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s frustration over the European Union’s (EU) ineffectiveness in dealing with the increased flow of migrants pouring into the region. Denouncing the EU’s plan to evenly redistribute migrants throughout the region’s 28 member-bloc as “border[ing] on insanity,” Orban has justified moves to build the wall by arguing that Hungary suffers from a higher rate of incoming refugees then neighboring EU states. According to Orban and the Hungarian government, about 54,000 migrants entered the country this year, compared to only 43,000 in 2014. The EU’s Eurostat agency has also revealed that Hungary received the second-highest number of applications for asylum in the EU after Germany in 2015, with most applications coming from Kosovo.

Hungary’s wall has received extraordinary levels of criticism from the rest of the EU and from neighboring Serbia, who argue that plans to erect the wall reflect growing levels of blatant xenophobia within Hungary’s illiberal government. Critics also point to national campaigns that were conducted in the past year, in which posters reading anti-immigrant sentiments such as “if you live in Hungary, you have to respect our laws,” were put up throughout the country, helping to paint refugees residing in Hungary as lawless job-stealing thieves and criminals.

Human rights organizations have further critiqued the Hungarian government’s response to the migration crisis, arguing that it requires desperate refugees to put themselves at ever greater risks in order to escape the violence of their home countries. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has argued that Hungary’s “wall” is not only morally wrong but also hypocritical, based on Hungary’s own authoritarian past. Alluding to the fact that Hungary was an axis power during World War Two (in fact Hungary was the first country to join Hitler’s cause), HRW has stated that “[it is] tragic… that Hungary, from where about 200,000 Hungarians were forced to flee in 1956 to obtain protection from Western Countries, is currently closing its borders to those fleeing their countries for similar reasons.”

This frustration has been echoed by the refugees themselves, who argue that a wall isn’t going to stop them from attempting to reach safety in Western European countries. Mr. Nayab, for example, who was a surgeon working for the Afghanistan government before he was stabbed four times by the Taliban, believes Hungary needs to focus its efforts on stopping the Islamic State rather than on building a wall to curb migration flows into the country. According to Mr. Nayab, “In Afghanistan, life is not safe, and every human who wants a safe life will make a hole in that wall, or find another way.”

Indeed, it is undeniable that alarming and ever-increasing rates of refugees pouring into Europe from all sides is one spill-over effect of the horrifying wars ravaging parts of the Middle East and Northern Africa. But, it is also undeniable that building walls—which has also been contemplated by the British government in order to resolve the refugee crisis in Calais, France and the Kenyan government in order to prevent Al-Shabaab from crossing over from Somalia—fails to effectively discourage desperate refugees from attempting the journey. The only way to begin to resolve Europe’s current refugee crisis is to spend energy and resources attempting to contain the source of the problem, rather than attempting to contain the victims of the problem.

Ana Powell

Sources: Al Jazeera, Reuters News Agency, The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, US News
Photo: Flickr

Millenium Development Goal Successor Sustainable Development Goals United Nations UN
With the United Nations’ eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set to expire in 2015, world leaders, policy makers, and citizens are in talks over the subsequent set of objectives in the mission to create a safe, equitable, and peaceful world.

Thirty member states from the United Nations General Assembly formed an Open Working Group (OWG) in June of 2012 to develop the next set of goals, which will focus on sustainable development and will reflect the UN’s development platform for the years after 2015. These goals are called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This Open Working Group plans to present its proposal of goals to the other UN member states in a year, for plans for adoption in September 2015.

Co-chair of the OWG and Hungary’s ambassador to the U.N., Csaba Kőrösi, stated that they have already received over 140 suggestions for goals. However, the goals have to be quantifiable and measurable in every nation.

The Hungarian ambassador stated that the proposal to extend the MDGs and have the SDGs exist alongside them is entirely illogical and defeats the purpose of a clear, definable list of goals. Having two sets of goals will make it harder for any of them to be achieved to any measurable degree. Therefore, whatever has been left from the MDGs will be incorporated substantially into the Sustainable Development Goals.

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has stated that these new goals “must be universal in nature yet responsive to the complexities, needs, and capacities of individual countries.” He also stated that post-2015 development has to show continued support in the fight against global poverty and sustainable development.

One of the main challenges the OWG faces is whether or not it is appropriate to make these goals global and to apply them to both rich and poor countries. Experts note the difficulty in assessing quantifiable improvements if the focus is with respect to all nations, developed and developing, as the metrics and conditions that assess quality of improvements vary greatly. Currently, the Millennium Development are goals set only for developing nations. So, the hope is to make these new set of goals something that is quantifiable, objective, and universal to all nations, both wealthy and poor.

It appears that current opinions cite responsible governance, more widespread equality, and better job markets as new objectives to be implemented into the Sustainable Development Goals, including the traditional markers of development such as guaranteed standards of healthcare and education. Member states have agreed, for the most part, that in these new set of goals, there will be objectives related to human rights, governmental accountability and transparency, and gender equality.

– Rahul Shah

Sources: Thomson Reuters Foundation, United Nations, The Guardian
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