Thousands of Migrants and Refugees Cross Into Austria From Hungary – NBCNews.com
Up to 4,000 refugees and migrants flooded across the Hungarian border into Austria early Saturday, where many were greeted by charity workers offering beds, hot tea and welcome handshakes.
Austrian police told NBC News that they expected the number of migrants and refugees entering the country to reach around 10,000 by the end of the day.
Waiting Austrians held signs that read, “Refugees welcome.” Many of the arrivals collapsed on the floor, smiles on their faces.
“Austria is very good,” 23-year-old Iraqi Merhan Harshiri told Reuters. He smiled broadly as he walked toward the supply line, where newcomers munched apples and bananas. “We have been treated very well by Austrian police,” he added.
The breakthrough came after days of confrontation and chaos, with Hungary’s right-wing government deploying dozens of buses to take migrants from Budapest.
Those who wanted to continue towards the Austrian capital Vienna and then Germany, which has been seen as among the most welcoming countries to migrants, would be allowed to go, police said.
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For days, several thousand refugees and migrants camped outside Budapest’s main railway station, where trains to western Europe were canceled as the government insisted all those entering Hungary be registered and their asylum applications processed in the country as per European Union rules.
But on Friday, in separate, quick-fire developments, hundreds broke out of an overcrowded camp on Hungary’s border with Serbia, escaped from a stranded train, and took to the highway by foot led by a one-legged Syrian refugee and chanting “Germany, Germany!”
Refugees are seen at Vienna’s Westbound Railway Station after arriving in trains from the Hungarian border, in Vienna, Austria, on Saturday. ROLAND SCHLAGER / EPA
Austria said it had agreed with Germany that it would allow the migrants access,
waiving the rules of an asylum system brought to breaking point by Europe’s worst refugee crisis since the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.
The asylum seekers chiefly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan often have spent months in Turkish refugee camps, taken long journeys by boat, train and foot through Greece and the Balkans, then crawled under barbed wire on Hungary’s southern frontier to a frosty welcome.
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