After enduring anti-Roma discrimination and violence in Hungary, a Roma family has fled the country with hopes to settle in Canada. The family is asking the Canadian government to respond to their immigration application for stay on humanitarian grounds before their deportation date on Thursday July 3.
A statement released on Monday said that Renata Buzas, Tibor Buzas and their three children applied for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds in December 2013, after their refugee claim was refused. The Canadian government has designated Hungary as safe for refugees, meaning that the Buzas family was not eligible for appeal on their refugee claim.
In a statement to the public, Renata Buzas said she hopes to stay in Canada in order to protect her children. “Each day, my children suffered from mental and physical abuse at school because of their Roma origins. No mother can tolerate that. Here in Canada they don’t have to be afraid; they can be themselves, they can evolve and flourish,” said Buzas.
The François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights and Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study in 2014 looking at the patterns of anti-Roma violence in Hungary.
The report argues that despite Hungary’s adoption of European Union anti-discrimination regulations and laws, extremist groups, private individuals and state officials still discriminate against Roma at an “alarming rate.” The discrimination the report noted affects access to education, health care and employment.
The report states that Hungarian government data shows that 70 per cent to 80 per cent of Roma live below the poverty line. The report also noted that two-thirds of Hungarians said they would not allow their children to become friends with a Roma child.
In Monday’s statement it said that the children are also struggling with language development. In Hungary, the children were unable to access support to address this difficulty. Both children, the statement noted, benefit from support programs in their Montreal North School and have made great progress. One of the two children was unable to read when she first arrived in Canada, but is now able to read in French.
Mary Foster from Solidarity Across Borders said she is disappointed that the family must deal with the stress that arises from their circumstance. “It is appalling that this beautiful family has to fight to stay here, that they have been forced to prove themselves, again and again, and to suffer stress and anxiety instead of being warmly welcomed and supported after all they have already gone through,” she said.
The family is still waiting for a response to their immigration application. The family is hoping Citizenship and Immigration Canada will decide on their application before the deportation date.
Buzas said she and her family left Hungary after a “racist attack” on her and her son. “It was the last straw. We just wanted to stop fighting. But here in Canada we have had to continue to fight because of this immigration process. I fear for my children in Hungary. They are too young to have to go through this; they are too young to fight. I sincerely beg you to help my children.”
Miriam Katawazi is a fourth-year journalism and human rights student at Carleton University and rabble’s news intern. She has a strong passion for human rights and social justice in Canada and across the world. Her writing focuses on health, labour, education and human rights beats.