Humanitarian action programs are carried out by an intergovernmental program which includes development aid, army counterparts, churches and specialised NGOs; both on domestic and international levels.
Refugees protection, Disaster management
The changes undergone by the country in the 1990s favourably changed the social and political environment for humanitarian activity. The Hungarian EU Presidency in 2011 marked another important step in the national humanitarian strategy.
The first independent humanitarian organisation, the Women’s Association for Hungarian National Aid, was set up in 1879; The Association was renamed and became known as the Red Cross Association for the Holy Hungarian Land in 1881, and was accepted as a member of ICRC in 1882.
The Hungarian Baptist Aid and the Hungarian Inter-church Aid are the most active faith-based organisations.
Hungary’s humanitarian action, as part of the national development coordination approach, has been focusing on areas where Hungary could best integrate knowledge transfer and monetary aid (refugees, protection, conflict and disaster).
Public spending has decreased and in the meantime there has been a push towards stronger coordination on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to better allocate the national resources for humanitarian action. Effort has been made by the same MFA to centralise the action of different governmental and non-governmental organisations. It was however claimed that NGOs were not sufficiently consulted by the intergovernmental committee when the national action plan was drafted, which negatively influenced the coordination between state and non-state actors.
The National Directorate General for Disaster Management (part of the Ministry of Interior - NDGDM) possesses competencies in civil emergency planning and in protection administration. The latter also has an important role in organising the delivery of international aid transport services and, in the event of a Hungarian request for assistance, it coordinates incoming aid and maintains contact with international organisations. NDGDM is in charge for liaising with COHAFA.
An action focused governmental strategy was communicated by the Ministry in 2012, however, the action plan does not clarify how financial resources could be increased. The importance of a national coordination plan for development triggered political consensus. Hungary successfully facilitated the specialised committees during the Hungarian presidency of the EU. (CODEV, ACP and COHAFA).
Civil society activity has been coordinated by the Hungarian Association of NGOs for Development and Humanitarian Aid (HAND), who aim to be a co-operative partner of the Hungarian government bodies.
Accession to the European Union and OECD membership represent the most significant milestones in the recent years since they brought with them the development of institutions, structures and mechanisms required for an effective international development co-operation policy, including humanitarian action.
The focus of humanitarian education is present in the area of higher education, BA and MA programs were launched at the National University of Public Service related mostly to field work, whilst other institutions launched specialised postgraduate programs for medical doctors and lawyers. The educational programs reflect the overwhelming position of armed forces in the field of humanitarian action.
The inefficient communication and information exchange between actors and educators has been signalled by both intergovernmental offices and civil partners. Quality and quantity of information available on possible fields of cooperation is insufficient, thus actors face difficulties to channel their actual needs.
HUNGARY. MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (2012) Report on the Achievements of Hungary’s EU Presidency Regarding the National Development Coordination and Humanitarian Action, (from: http://www.kormany.hu/download/e/cf/(...)91l.pdf) (Accessed on 2014 May 6)
FODOR E., Recent Trends in Hungary’s Humanitarian Action and Humanitarian Aid Policies, UN Association of Hungary (2013) In HUNGARY. MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS. Report on National Development Coordination and Humanitarian Action in Hungary, 2012
Hungarian Association of NGOs for Development and Humanitarian Aid
Gabor KARDOS and Sara HUNGLER
Eötvös Loránd University