Some facts about Hungary
|Swimming - photo: SOS Archives|
The Republic of Hungary lies in central Europe – it borders Slovakia in the north, Ukraine in the north-east, Romania in the east, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria in the west and Serbia in the south. The capital city is Budapest with approximately 1.7 million inhabitants. The population is ten million (July 2011 est.), of which 90% is Hungarian and five per cent is Roma and Sinti. Children under the age of 14 account for 15 per cent of the population.
Hungary became independent from the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and in the spring of 1990, free elections were held. Hungary joined NATO in 1999 and became a member of the European Union in 2004.
High unemployment rate and low life expectancy
The move to a free market economy brought a fall in living standards for most Hungarians. In addition, many social welfare programmes were cut. In a country with high unemployment - estimated to be at more than ten per cent (2010 est.) - and where around 14 per cent of the population lives below the nationally-defined poverty line, the loss of social welfare programmes has had a devastating effect on the lives of Hungarians . The economic crisis of 2008-2010 made matters even worse.
Most Hungarians work in the service industry. Tourism is an important source of income; Hungary attracts about nine million tourists a year. Around a third of the working population is employed in industry and about five per cent works in agriculture.
Hungary has one of the lowest life expectancies of the European Union. Most deaths are caused by cardiovascular diseases. The health service has undergone reform since 1990, but corruption still exists within the system.
The situation of the Roma and Sinti minorities is particularly bad. People from these minorities have a lower life expectancy rate than ethnic Hungarians. They face discrimination and are not fully integrated into the education system or the workforce
Situation of the children
The social, political and economic changes of the late 1980s and early 1990s also led to changes in the lives of children. Around a fifth is classified as poor by the authorities. Children from Roma and Sinti backgrounds constitute a high number of those who live below the poverty line. In addition, unemployment affects young people between the ages of 15 and 24 more than adults.
|On the wall - photo: SOS Archives|
The Hungarian government has approved legislation to improve the life of children, but there is a lack of resources and qualified professionals to carry these reforms through. Reports from local agencies conclude that families are not given enough economic or psychological support to care for their children.
The government has taken measures to protect the rights of children who are taken into care. For example, it has built modern small-scale homes which are closer to the families of origin. However, disabled children who are taken into care are placed in big institutions.
SOS Children's Villages in Hungary
SOS Children’s Villages currently works with families and children in three locations in Hungary. In addition to the SOS families, which offer family-based care for children, the programmes also include social centres, which run family-strengthening programmes, youth centres and other programmes working with children who need urgent care.