Refugees in Hungary Start Moving West on Foot; Buses Offered – New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
September 4, 2015
BICSKE, Hungary — Hundreds of migrants, exhausted after long treks from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, broke away from Hungarian police on Friday and headed on foot for Western Europe. In a surprise nighttime announcement, Hungary’s government said it would send buses to take them to the border with Austria.
It was not clear what the migrants’ fate would be there.
With people streaming in long lines along highways from a Budapest train station and one near a migrant reception center in this northern town, the buses would be used because “transportation safety can’t be put at risk,” said Janos Lazar, chief of staff to the prime minister.
Lazar blamed Germany’s “contradictory communications” and the European Union for the crisis. He said Hungary had asked Austria to clarify its position on the migrants but had not yet received an answer.
The asylum seekers had already made dangerous treks in scorching heat, crawling under barbed wire on Hungary’s southern frontier and facing the hostility of some locals along the way. Their first stop will be Austria, on Hungary’s western border, though most hope to eventually reach Germany.
Hungarian authorities had refused to let them board trains to the west, and the migrants balked at going to processing centers, fearing they would be forced to live in Hungary.
Under European law, refugees are supposed to seek asylum in the first European Union country they enter. But many see limited economic opportunities and a less welcoming atmosphere in Hungary than in Germany, Sweden and other Western nations.
In what the Hungarian media called a “day of uprisings,” about 350 people broke through a police cordon and began heading to Austria, 135 kilometers (85 miles) to the west, on tracks leading away from the railway station. Surprised riot police scrambled for their helmets as the crowd surged from the front of the train.
One man, a 51-year-old Pakistani, collapsed about 800 meters (yards) from the station and died despite efforts to rescue him.
Those left behind, mostly women and children, were boarded onto buses and taken to the nearby asylum center.
Hours earlier, about 2,000 people set out from Budapest’s Keleti station for a 171-kilometer journey (106-mile) to the Austrian border. At first police tried to block them, but they quickly gave up. By nightfall, the marchers had already covered about 50 kilometers (30 miles).
Along the way, some met with gestures of support. …Read More