Budapest Sun
Vojvodinan Hungarians come home

By Duncan Welch

Feb. 17, 2000

Ethnic Hungarians from Vojvodina who have spent the last few years in Hungary due to the conflict in the Balkans now have the opportunity for permanent residence.

The Immigration and Naturalization Office, in collaboration with the Baptist Church Aid charity, launched a Ft15 million ($58,169) resettlement program to assist approximately 200 ethnic Hungarians from the northern Yugoslavia province.

"These people had to leave Vojvodina because of the circumstances there, and have been unable to return home.

"They were initially given temporary status, but with this program they can settle in Hungary," István Dobó, deputy director general of the Immigration and Naturalization Office and directorate of Asylum Affairs for the Ministry of the Interior, told The Budapest Sun.

"The resettlement scheme is entirely voluntary. Those who wish to return home may do so, but if they wish to stay in Hungary our program is there to make this possible. With the help of Baptist Church Aid we can find these families and individuals accommodation and somewhere to work in order to support themselves," he added.

Financial assistance is given to those wishing to stay who are currently living in refugee transitional camps in Debrecen, eastern Hungary, and Vése in the south. They must take part in an adjustment program that will last several months, and will then receive money to assist in their resettlement.

"Individuals will receive Ft50,000 ($194) to help support themselves, and families may receive up to Ft250,000 ($969) to help with their new start," said Dobó.

"We started to implement the resettlement assistance program on Monday, January 31, in Vése and will begin the scheme in Debrecen as soon as possible."

An official at the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees said that 1,031 Vojvodinan Hungarians applied for asylum between March 24 and December 31, 1999. There are no figures available for those who had decided instead to return to their homes.

Original article