As It Happens

Volunteer delivers supplies to 'absolutely inhuman' makeshift refugee camp in Hungary

Thomas Eitzenberger is taking time off from his day job as a software consultant in Austria to drive to southern Hungary, delivering supplies to a makeshift refugee camp.
Migrants and refugees queue as they wait for a police bus to take them to a detention center close to Hungary's border with Serbia in Roszke, Hungary, Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. (Marko Drobnjakovic/AP Photo)

Thomas Eitzenberger is a software consultant. But the work he's been doing since last Friday has nothing to do with software. Eitzenberger has been driving non-stop with other volunteers, from his home in Graz, Austria to a refugee camp in southern Hungary. The makeshift camp was constructed in the working class village of Roszke to hold an influx of refugees, mostly from Syria.

"The conditions there are not even terrible, but I would call it insane. It's absolutely inhuman how the people are treated there," Eitzenberger tells As It Happens host Carol Off.

Eitzenberger is packing his van with camping materials, tents, blankets and transporting the supplies to the camp, where he says people are desperate for even the most basic necessities.

"We're not talking about toothbrush or soaps because the people don't even have water to clean themselves. Not to mention, they have 2,000 people there on the field with three toilets and one doctor."

With temperatures as low as ten degrees and no adequate shelter the situation is dire, especially for children and pregnant woman.

"They are starving, they are freezing," Eitzenberger explains. "They are burning plastics just because they want to have fire."

Eitzenberger calls the camp a "prison".

"The prison is a police line that is marked and they must not step out of that," he explains. But there is no physical barrier and the hundreds of Hungarian police on guard have allowed him to enter the camp with his vital supplies.

Eitzenberger distinguishes between the Hungarian people and government to explain this minor but essential compromise.

"The policemen are not with their full heart into the topic, I mean they have their own lives, they don't...feel it necessary to chase down those poor people."

He adds that while many Hungarian people are helping and housing refugees, "what the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán is doing, is for me, an absolute crime."

A group of refugees walk along the railway tracks near the town of Roszke, Hungary, on Thursday Sept. 3, 2015 after crossing the border from Serbia. The 28-nation European Union has been at odds for months on how to deal with the influx of more than 332,000 migrants this year as Greece, Italy and Hungary have pleaded for more help. (Santi Palacios/AP Photo)

Eitzenberger remains hopeful and claims that there are others like him who are doing their part to help.

"There are of course people that have other thoughts on this...but for me it is very inspiring to see so many people standing up and helping other people and that's what counts."

For Eitzenberger, the impulse to make the journey came naturally:

"From the bottom of my heart, because I'm a human being."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.