Stranded Migrants Turn Budapest Into Crisis Choke Point – TIME
Thousands of migrants from Syria and other conflict zones have occupied a train station in the Hungarian capital, protesting for the right to travel to Germany and claim asylumThe odds did not look good for the Hungarian policemen. There were about a dozen of them, all brawny young men in white polo shirts and pointed red caps, who had been ordered to keep the migrants out of the Keleti train station in central Budapest. By Wednesday morning, it seemed these orders would be impossible to carry out much longer. There were just too many of the migrants camped around the station, and they were too determined to leave Hungary behind on their way to Western Europe.
“Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but we will go to Germany on this train,” said Opada al-Mussa, a 22-year-old refugee from the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zour, which has been besieged for months by militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria. Along with thousands of other migrants fleeing conflict zones across the Muslim world, al-Mussa has been camped out at Keleti station over the past two days, turning it into one of the most volatile bottlenecks for the flood of migrants now rushing into the European Union through Hungary.
Hungarian authorities appear to have no coherent strategy for dealing with this influx of asylum seekers, more than 140,000 of whom have arrived in Hungary this year alone, triple the number registered in all of 2014. On Monday evening, nearly a thousand of them demonstrated at Keleti station, demanding to be allowed onto the trains bound for Germany, where they intend to apply for asylum. In an apparent reversal of government policy, the local transport officials relented that night, allowing hundreds of refugees to board the trains bound for Munich through Austria. But hours later, the authorities changed their their minds again and shut the station to the growing crowds of migrants gathered outside.
Since last week, asylum seekers have been streaming by the thousands every day into the European Union through Hungary, hoping to reach the more prosperous nations of Western Europe and apply for refugee status there. The loose line of riot troops guarding Keleti station is now the main obstacle standing in their way. In the cavernous passageways beneath the platforms, thousands of refugees have set up a sprawling encampment, mostly sleeping rough on the concrete floor or …Read More