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A policeman tries to control migrants at a Hungarian train station on Tuesday. (Photo: Reuters)

Hungarian Train Depot Emerges as Ground Zero in European Refugee Crisis

Refugees who had expected to board trains at Budapest station to Austria and Germany found Hungarian police officers barring their way

Deirdre Fulton

As the European continent grapples with a war-fueled refugee crisis, thousands of asylum-seekers remained stranded at Budapest's main international railway station on Wednesday after Hungarian authorities prevented them from leaving for Germany and other countries in western Europe.

According to news reports, refugees who had expected to board trains at Keleti station to Austria and Germany found Hungarian police officers barring their way, citing EU rules.

The BBC explains:

Under an EU rule known as the Dublin Regulation, refugees should seek asylum in the first EU country they enter. But with countries such as Italy and Greece saying they cannot cope with the numbers, many have headed north.

Hungary had earlier appeared to abandon efforts to register migrants, allowing huge numbers to board trains at Keleti station in east Budapest and travel to Vienna and southern Germany on Monday.

But on Tuesday, Hungary backtracked, closing the station to refugees and migrants.

In turn, several hundred staged an impromptu demonstration, waving train tickets and shouting "Freedom! Freedom!" and "Germany! Germany!"—the country so many refugees are hoping to reach. 

"Please, we are human too," said a sign in German held up by a young boy in a smaller group which protested into the evening.

The Guardian reports:

...last week Berlin said it had suspended the [Dublin Regulation] requirement for Syrians, who would now be permitted to stay in Germany and apply for refugee status.

The move has angered Hungary, which said it would encourage more migrants to make the journey to Europe.

Speaking to the continent's burgeoning refugee crisis, the New York Times added: "The scenes of confusion and despair at Keleti and the acrimonious exchanges underline the challenges facing Europe as tens of thousands of migrants, buffeted by civil war and conflict in the Middle East and Syria, try to make the perilous journey. Once in Europe, they face a patchwork of policies across a 28-member bloc that is ill equipped to deal with the surge."

But as CNN reported of the scene in Budapest:

Still, almost anything—even this—is better than the chaos and killing from which they have fled: in Syria, where cities lie in rubble; in South Sudan, ravaged by war and poverty; in Libya, where warlords maraud and people suffer; in Iraq, where ISIS likes to video its slaughter of innocents.

These lands are no place for families to thrive. No place to raise one's children.

"We have been here five days," one Syrian refugee at Keleti station told CNN on Tuesday. "No food, no sleep—no place to sleep, no anything."


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