By Griff Witte and Michael Birnbaum,
BICSKE, Hungary — Hundreds of asylum-seekers packed onto a train just outside Hungary’s capital continued a standoff with authorities on Friday, as the nation’s leader warned that an influx of Muslim refugees meant that Europeans could become “a minority in our own continent.”
As dozens of riot police guarded the marooned yellow-and-green train, the debate over how to respond to Europe’s refugee crisis continued to escalate. Hungarian lawmakers, fearful of the influx of asylum-seekers from conflict-torn nations such as Syria and Iraq, were set to approve measures later Friday that would give authorities sweeping powers to seal their border.
The asylum-seekers said they had been tricked a day earlier by Hungarian police as they tried to reach Western Europe from Budapest. Authorities allowed trains packed full of migrants to leave the city center, bound for the border with Austria. But the trains made a sudden stop just outside Budapest, where a station platform was packed with riot police waiting to take them to a migration processing center. Most of the asylum-seekers refused to get off the train, and they remained there in limbo on Friday, as food and water dwindled and their desperation built.
[Smuggling refugees is a new growth industry]
“Where is the human rights? Where is the United Nations?” said Adnan, a bearded young man in green shorts and a gray T-shirt who said he had fled with his family from Latakia, Syria, and was trying to reach Germany. He spoke just in front of the halted train, which stood silently on the track on a sweltering 80-degree day.
“If we stay here, we will all die,” he said.
Women pleaded for the world’s help. Men held crying children aloft above the chain-link fence that separated the train from the main station platform.
Adnan, who did not give his last name, said he would rather die than be sent to the Hungarian camp, where asylum-seekers fear they would face swift deportation. On the side of the train, someone had written, “No Camp, No Hungary,” in shaving cream.
On the platform were piles of bottled water, boxed juice and packaged cookies brought by the Hungarian Red Cross. For hours, nothing was distributed, and the Red Cross said it did not have police permission to cross the tracks to bring it to …Read More