B bábi, Tibor

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Be1gium, Hungarians in – The first group of Hungarian immigrants in 1919 settled mainly in Belgium’s mining districts of Charleroi and Limburg. Children brought by special trains were scattered in northern Belgium’s Flemish area. Hungarians looking for work between 1919 and 1940 were also settled in the mining and industrial districts of the country. In the 1930s young Hungarian women were employed as domestics in and around Brussels. In 1937 most of the 146 dismissed Hungarian coal miners from the mines of Pécs also went to Belgium. In 1945 some of the Hungarian immigrants stayed in Brussels, others settled in the mining and industrial areas of Charleroi, Liège, and Limburg. The immigrants of 1956, who stayed in Belgium, were scattered all over the country. An impressive group of young people ended up at the Catholic University of Louvain, where nearly 400 Hungarian students graduated over the years. Before 1956 the number of Hungarians in the district of Liège and Limburg was between 1200 and 1800, growing to some 3000 by 1984. In 1956 their number temporarily grew much higher due to the arrival of about 6000 new refugees. Most of them later left for overseas; but while they were in Belgium these new immigrants received help from the authorities and private institutions. There is a Hungarian House (Magyar Ház) in Brussels that accommodates a library, other societies, and the Boy Scouts. The most important Hungarian institution in existence since 1978 is the Corvina Circle. The Collegium Hungaricum Lovaniense was established in Louvain in 1948, and is run by the Jesuits. Its college offers lodging for some 100 students. The Outlook (Kilátó) is a cultural review, founded in the mid-1980s. Since 1991, the Hungarian-Flemish Circle of Friends (Magyar-Flamand Baráti Kör) includes Hungarians living in Flanders. It offers cultural programs and Hungarian language courses. Estimates put the number of Hungarians in Belgium in 1961 at 6700. In 1969 the Hungarian State Census Office set the number of Hungarians in Belgium at 15,000. In 2005 the best estimate of the number of Hungarians living in Belgium was around 24,000. It is expected that the number of Hungarians will rise because of the growing Hungarian presence in the institutions and offices of the European Union in Brussels. – B: 1104, 1364, T: 3240, 7103.

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