Stranded migrants turn Budapest into choke point of refugee
Hundreds of migrants protested in front of Budapest’s Keleti Railway Terminus for a second straight day on Wednesday, shouting “Freedom, freedom!” and demanding to be let onto trains bound for Germany from a station that has been closed to them.
Chaos this week at the station in the Hungarian capital has become the latest symbol of Europe’s migration crisis, the continent’s worst since the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
More than 2,000 migrants, including families with children, were waiting in the square at the station while Hungarians with IDs and foreigners with valid passports could board the trains.
About 300 migrants stared down police in riot gear on one side of the station. One waved a makeshift sign saying ‘We Want Our Freedom’.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war and economic migrants escaping poverty have been arriving in Europe, on rickety boats across the Mediterranean and over land across the Balkan peninsula.
Nearly all reach the EU on its southern or eastern outskirts and then press on for the richer and more generous countries further north and west, ignoring EU rules which require them to wait for processing in the country where they first arrive.
Germany, which is prepared to take by far the greatest number, has begun accepting asylum claims from Syrian refugees regardless of where they entered the EU, even though undocumented migrants are theoretically barred from travel across the bloc. That has caused confusion for its neighbours, which have alternated this week between letting them through and blocking them.
Many have come overland across the Balkans through Hungary, which allowed thousands to board trains for Germany on Monday but has since called a halt to the travel, leaving migrants camped in the summer heat in central Budapest.
Asked if Hungary would again let migrants board trains to Germany as it did on Monday, a spokesman said Budapest would observe European Union rules which bar travel by those without valid documents. The station has been shut to migrants since Tuesday morning.
Hungary’s parliament on Thursday begins an extraordinary session and is expected to vote on government proposals that tighten border controls, allowing for the use of the army in limited ways, and set up new holding camps for migrants. — Reuters
Crisis polarises European Union
The migration crisis has polarised and confounded the EU, which is committed to the principle of accepting refugees fleeing real danger but has no mechanism to compel its 28 member states to share out the burden of receiving them
Twenty-six European countries have eliminated border controls between them under the EU's Schengen programme, leaving no effective mechanism in place to enforce the ban on undocumented migrants travelling within the bloc
Germany says that despite its decision to accept asylum applications from Syrians who first arrive elsewhere in the EU, other states in the bloc should continue to demand migrants register and remain where they first arrive