Syrian refugees continue Europe ‘journey’ on foot
REUTERS photoHungarian authorities were locked in a stand-off with migrants who left Budapest’s main train station on foot for Austria, while the U.K. said it would take thousands more Syrian refugees as the crisis gripping Europe mounted.
Pressure on EU leaders intensified following the release of heartbreaking photos of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body on a Turkish beach, after he drowned with his brother Galip and mother Rihana while trying to cross to Greece.
More than 1,000 migrants who had been stranded for days at Budapest’s main train station left the building on Sept. 4, intent on walking to the Austrian border. Some were on crutches, while some parents carried their children on their shoulders.
“We are very happy that something is happening at last, the next stop is Austria. The children are very tired, Hungary is very bad, we have to go somehow,” 23-year-old Osama from Syria told Agence France-Presse.
Hungary, meanwhile, shut its main border crossing with Serbia after about 300 people escaped from a nearby refugee camp in Roszke. Separately, 500 migrants refused for a second day to get off a train that police stopped en route to the Austrian border.
Hungary’s parliament on Sept. 4 introduced emergency anti-migration laws.
The new measures include three-year jail terms for people climbing over the newly built razor wire fence on the border with Serbia, as well as new border “transit zones” to hold asylum seekers while their applications are being processed.
Serbia said on Sept. 4 that it would ask the European Union for direct budget support to deal with an expected bottleneck of migrants. Aleksandar Vulin, Serbia’s minister of labor and social affairs, urged the EU to stump up the cash. On Sept. 3, more than 5,000 entered Macedonia from Greece, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said.
“We want direct budget backing,” Vulin told Reuters. “We pay people who are distributing the aid, doctors, police officers.”
Meanwhile, under-fire British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose country has been accused of failing to help shoulder the burden, said he would set out plans next week for his country to take “thousands more” refugees.
“I can announce that we will do more, providing resettlement for thousands more Syrian refugees,” Cameron said in Lisbon.
However, he insisted that Britain would take refugees directly from camps on the border with Syria and not those already in other EU member states, saying that would just encourage more people to make the journey to Europe.