Thousands of Migrants Reach Austria as New Groups Set Off – New York Times
NICKELSDORF, Austria — The extraordinary march of migrants, breaking through Hungarian obstacles, reached Austria on Saturday morning after a night of frantic negotiations among German, Austrian and Hungarian officials cleared the way.
Nearly 5,000 exhausted migrants, many of them fleeing from Syria, were bused to the Austrian border by a Hungarian government that gave up trying to stop them and instead decided to help them travel in safety.
On Saturday morning, however, a new group of about 1,000 migrants set off themselves on foot from the Budapest train station, Keleti, on their own march to the border, trying to reach Germany, their promised land.
But Hungarian authorities, who had helped the first group, said on Saturday they would not provide further buses to the border but would stick to their understanding of European regulations and try to stop and register new migrants.
Zoltan Kovacs, a government spokesman, told the state news agency that Budapest was not planning to dispatch any more buses to Austria. But at least 2,000 more migrants were caught trying to enter Hungary on Friday alone, and Janos Lazar, the chief of staff to prime minister Viktor Orban, said that Hungary would work to complete its border fence to stop further illegal entry.
Late Friday night, the Hungarian attitude appeared to have changed. The Hungarians provided dozens of buses from Budapest and stopped to pick up at least 1,000 others who had decided to walk along the main highway to Austria and then, if necessary, to Germany.
That group, fed up with an earlier Hungarian decision to block their travel and force them to register in Hungary, spontaneously followed a Syrian migrant who goes by the nickname Abu al-Majd and left Budapest’s Keleti train station on Friday to begin their long march to Germany, their dream destination.
With international train service already frozen and the march blocking a major highway, Hungary was on the brink of shutting down. The Hungarian government was forced to bend, deciding that if the migrants wanted to leave Hungary so badly the officials should help them to do so. They said they provided 104 buses for some 4,500 people.
The scenes at the Austrian border at Nickelsdorf were chaotic, with the Hungarians making the migrants walk the final distance to the border in the rain.
Wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags against the chilly downpour, lines of weary migrants, many carrying small, sleeping children, climbed off …Read More