For a second day, thousands of stranded migrants, including refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, have camped out at the main train station in Budapest. As we've reported, the Hungarian government was allowing the migrants to leave without a passport check, but on Tuesday migrants were barred from boarding trains that were headed toward Western Europe.
The migrants camped overnight at Keleti station had been prevented from boarding trains on Tuesday. They had bought tickets after Hungary appeared to abandon efforts on Monday to register migrants, allowing huge numbers to board trains to Vienna and southern Germany. Hundreds of migrants again protested on Wednesday, chanting "Freedom, freedom" and waving train tickets.
The Guardian reports that the closure was prompted, at least in part, by pressure from other European Union members trying to cope with the mass influx of migrants. The paper reports that on Wednesday, the migrants protested outside the station. "Freedom, freedom," they chanted. Meanwhile, the BBC reports that migrants continue to pour into Greece.
The BBC adds: "Some 2,000 people, mostly from the Middle East, remain stranded outside a railway station in Hungary after police stopped them travelling through the EU. "The EU's border control agency, Frontex, says 23,000 migrants arrived in Greece last week alone — an increase of 50% on the previous week."
The father of a three-year-old Syrian boy, whose body was washed up on a Turkish beach in an image that shocked the world, has said his children "slipped through my hands" as their boat was taking in water on its way to Greece. Abdullah, whose surname is given by Turkish media as Kurdi but sources in Syria say is actually called Shenu, lost his three-year-old son Aylan, four-year-old son Ghaleb and wife Rihana in the tragedy.
"I was holding my wife's hand. But my children slipped through my hands. It was dark and everyone was screaming," Abdullah Kurdi told Turkey's Dogan news agency yesterday of the moment the dinghy began to sink. "We tried to cling to the small boat, but it was deflating." Abdullah cut an inconsolable figure sitting outside the morgue in Bodrum yesterday, staring blankly into his mobile phone as he waited for the coffins of his family to be loaded onto a municipal van, an AFP photographer reported.
Twelve Syrian migrants drowned on Wednesday when two boats sank in Turkish waters as they were heading towards the Greek island of Kos, in the latest tragedy to hit migrants in the Aegean. But attention has focused on three-year-old Aylan, whose tiny body was photographed washed up on a beach in the resort of Bodrum in an image that quickly became a viral symbol of the tragedy of refugees.
A female Hungarian video journalist has been fired from her far-right news organization after shocking footage emerged of her kicking and tripping migrants, including children, fleeing police in southern Hungary.
Petra Laszlo was filming the scene in Roszke, near the Serbian border, when video taken by other videographers captured her kicking children as they broke away from police. One clip clearly showed her stick out her leg and trip a man, carrying a small bag of belongings and a young child in his arm, sending the duo tumbling to the ground in angry tears.
Laszlo was working for N1TV, an Internet-based TV news station associated with the country’s far-right Jobbik party, when she stuck her foot in it, Agence-France Presse reported. "An N1TV colleague today behaved in an unacceptable way at the Roszke collection point," N1TV's editor-in-chief Szabolcs Kisberk said in a statement on the channel's Facebook page Tuesday.
"The camerawoman's employment contract has been terminated with immediate effect as of today, we consider the matter closed.” The Jobbiks have long held anti-Semitic and anti-immigration views, according to reports. It’s the country’s third-largest party in Parliament, according to The Telegraph.
The European Commission has set out detailed plans for mandatory quotas for EU nations to take in refugees, as Europe struggles to cope with a huge influx of migrants – many of them fleeing war in Syria.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said the proposed measures would "ensure that people in clear need of international protection are relocated swiftly after arriving – not just now but also for any crisis in the future."
Under the proposals, 120,000 refugees will be relocated from Greece, Italy, and Hungary – three EU nations at the forefront of the crisis, thanks to transit routes across the Mediterranean and through the Balkans. Of those, 15,600 will come from Italy, 50,400 from Greece and 54,000 from Hungary, the European Commission said.
They would be distributed among other EU states according to binding quotas based on each country's population, GDP, past asylum applications received and employment rate. Additional EU funding would be provided to countries taking in refugees. The figure of 120,000 is on top of a proposal by the European Commission in May to relocate 40,000 people in need of international protection from Italy and Greece.
When little Aylan Kurdi’s body washed up on a Turkish beach last week, the world finally began to take notice of what is shaping up to be the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe in 70 years. And it’s about time. This dead 3-year-old boy is nothing less than a symbol of the West’s impotence in the face of the massacres taking place in Syria and Iraq and its abdication of any human decency in addressing the human tide washing up on its shores today.
Europe should find a way to accommodate and resettle many of these refugees. And the United States – a nation founded by immigrants fleeing oppression and persecution – should offer many more of them the means to immigrate here legally.
President Obama announced Thursday that the United States would welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees, which begins to lift what promised to have been a stain on his legacy. But this is not a partisan issue, nor should it be. Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, whose parents were political refugees fleeing an oppressive regime, should join the president in welcoming refugees fleeing massacres and oppression in the Middle East.
The United States helped light the fuse that has forced these millions of men, women and children to flee their homes in Syria and Iraq – and until Thursday, we had largely walked away from the consequences of our actions. And let us not discount the racism involved in the current debate. There is a not-so-subtle undercurrent about maintaining a “Judeo-Christian” identity, both here and in Europe. We turn on the television and see millions of Muslims pressing to come to the West, and thoughts immediately turn to 9/11, to terrorists walking among us, to a tsunami of “others” who will overwhelm our Western identity.