Saturday, September 5, 2015

Cheering German crowds greet refugees after long trek from Budapest to Munich

As Europe’s politicians continue to bicker, desperate travellers are welcomed and fed as they arrive at German city

 in Budapest and Munich,  in Nickelsdorf, Rosie Waites in Vienna and  in London



In pouring rain, they crossed the last few metres into Austria in the early hours of Saturday morning. The waiting Austrian police in their heavy waterproofs were taken aback by the refusal of the Hungarian bus drivers to take their passengers the last two kilometres over the border and on to the Nickelsdorf train station where they were expected, and where a Vienna-bound train was waiting.
Instead, the officers had to guide the way with torches, helpless to offer shelter to the tired clusters of men, women and children coming through the puddles at the side of the motorway in the darkness.
From 3am until early afternoon, some 120 blue buses had been and gone, disgorging an estimated 4,000 refugees. Some residents of the small border town of Nickelsdorf were at their windows, others out on the streets with blankets and umbrellas, offering hot drinks.
A Red Cross tent offered respite from the rain, with medics and volunteers working shifts while people waited for their turn to board special half-hourly bus and train services, laid on by the Austrian Federal Railway, to Vienna and Salzburg, and from there to Munich.
“We have treated a two-day-old gunshot wound. We’ve seen eye injuries caused by stun grenades. We’ve seen children with severe bruises,” Red Cross spokesman Andreas Zenker said.

A boy who had arrived on a train from Hungary gets a kiss from a volunteer worker in Munich.
 A boy who had arrived on a train from Hungary gets a kiss from a volunteer worker in Munich. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Several people were sent on to nearby hospitals, but Zenker said that most were “gritting their teeth” to continue their journey, despite some walking for almost eight hours through the night.

This, said the UN high commissioner for refugees, António Guterres, was a “defining moment” for the 28-nation European Union. Already the heroes and villains of the piece were being laid out – with condemnation of the response of the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, and praise for Germany’s Angela Merkel and the Austrian chancellor, Werner Faymann, who announced they were opening their doors to refugees in the early hours of Saturday.
Around the same time, Hungary unexpectedly decided to provide buses for those who had simply walked out of Budapest on foot, heading for the Austrian border, after being prevented for several days from catching trains out of the capital. Some had been taken to a refugee camp.
In what the Hungarian media called a “day of uprisings”, 350 people had broken through a police cordon on Friday and begun heading to Austria, 85 miles (137km) away, on tracks leading away from the railway station. By late afternoon on Friday, a day after Orbán had warned of a “Muslim threat” to a Christian culture, up to 2,000 people – most from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – were walking towards the border in chaotic scenes.

Migrant children play
 Refugee children play at the Austrian-Hungarian border near the village of Nickelsdorf. Photograph: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

The sudden appearance of blue public buses was a staggering about-turn – and an unexpected rejection of the Dublin regulation, which says refugees seeking asylum should have their application assessed in the first EU country they enter, and which Hungary had insisted on upholding. The country is already under fire for its plans to close and wire-fence its borders, saying it will effectively seal the frontier to migrants as of next week, in the face of EU Schengen rules. The European Council president, Donald Tusk, warned that divisions between western member states and their newer eastern partners were complicating efforts to solve the deepening refugee crisis. “There is a divide … between the east and the west of the EU. Some member states are thinking about containing the wave of migration, symbolised by the Hungarian [border] fence,” Tusk said.

But by the time the last buses arrived at 4.45am, almost everyone was too sodden and tired to worry about politicians’ motives. They squeezed on to the buses, standing in the aisles, sitting on the steps crushed against the doors. Within minutes, most were asleep. In Budapest, a handful of those who remained were reluctant to be processed in Germany because they wanted to join family members elsewhere. “I’m going to London on my own, my brother lives there and you can get a good job,” said Khan Mohammad, who comes from northern Baghlan province. Others had simply missed the convoy to the border.The buses triggered alarm. Many refugees distrusted the Hungarian authorities after some of those camped at Budapest railway station had earlier boarded buses that they were told were heading for the Austrian border, only to end up in a refugee camp in Hungary. Many feared a similar ploy this time. “Who’s organising it, the Hungarians?” asked Ali, a Syrian on the march, after seeing the buses were coming. “Forget it, I’m walking.”
On Saturday a column of several hundred new arrivals stormed through the station and on to the metro, saying they were heading for Germany. They piled back up the escalators when it emerged they had the wrong train system and on to the mainline platforms where warnings that international trains were not running had now been removed, although without any signs of the trains themselves.
“We must get to Germany,” said Suleiman, 23, from Gaza.
On the road to the border, there were tailbacks for eight kilometres, but many, like Marwan, didn’t mind. His view through the bus window was mainly of drizzle. He had walked for much of Friday in the rain, and he hadn’t slept all night. But by the time dawn rose on Saturday, he had cause to be cheerful. “Finally I’m getting out of Hungary,” he smiled. “I’m happy.”

 Route taken by migrants.

In Austria, the mood was one of pride – for the way the government had responded to the crisis and for the overwhelming response from people ferrying donations of food, water and clothes to train stations in Vienna and Salzburg. By Saturday afternoon, officials in Vienna had to ask people to stay away from the station, which was heavily overcrowded with well-wishers bearing donations.
Hundreds of Austrian rail workers pledged to work overtime for free, to drive special refugee trains. Their boss, Christian Kern, called the situation “a huge challenge, a state of emergency”. He said the refugees’ train tickets would not be checked but that the goal was to take them as quickly as possible to their desired destination.

Refugees in heavy rain
 Refugees during heavy rain. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP

Some Austrians have been driving to the border in private cars and buses with the aim of giving refugees a lift to Vienna, but have been warned by the police not to cross into Hungary as they could be prosecuted there for people-smuggling. Austria’s foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz, said this weekend was a wake-up call for Europe. “This has to be an eye-opener as to how messed up the situation inEurope is now. I hope this serves as a wake-up call that it cannot continue.”

Chaotic and tragic scenes have been witnessed all over Europe but it was Hungary that became the focus of the refugee crisis with the arrival of about 50,000 migrants last month via the western Balkans, with a record 3,300 arriving on Thursday alone, according to UN figures. Hungary responded with tough anti-immigration measures, including its controversial three-metre razor-wire fence. Poor camp conditions and slow registration for asylum seekers have contributed to rising tensions at Hungary’s refugee facilities, but the country blames Germany, which expects to receive 800,000 asylum seekers this year, for declaring it would accept Syrian requests regardless of where they enter the EU.Stories such as the discovery of 71 decomposing bodies in a truck near Nickelsdorf last month and the tragedy of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body was washed up on the Turkish coast on Wednesday along with his five-year-old brother and his mother, have horrified people all over the world. An even younger victim of the crisis emerged on Saturday night when a newborn boy was found dead after his parents reached the shores of a Greek island in a boat from Turkey. The baby boy was taken from the island of Agathonisi to a hospital on the nearby island of Samos, where he was pronounced dead, the Greek coastguard service said.
“What happened is the consequence of the failed migration policy of the European Union and the irresponsible statements made by European politician,” the Hungarian foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, said on Saturday.

Boy on a train
 A boy reacts as the train departs from Keleti railway station in Budapest. Photograph: Marko Drobnjakovic/AP

Hungary had also insisted there would be no more bus transports. On Saturday morning, in a park near Keleti station, a group of young men fretted about their next move. “We were sent to sleep in a hotel for one night after four nights on the street. I had no idea the government would send buses,” said Rahman, a 26-year-old Syrian from Aleppo, travelling with his wife, sister-in-law and two nephews. “We just wanted a break. Do you know if there will be another coach?” he asked anxiously.
A young Iraqi who had just arrived had not even heard about the coaches. “I just arrived a couple of hours ago. I have no idea about buses,” said Sajad al-Azawi, from Baghdad, who wants to be a computer scientist and is heading to Germany.
On Saturday night at Munich’s main station, dozens of Germans lined up behind police barriers to clap, cheer and distribute sweets to welcome refugees to their new home. A sophisticated official operation provided food and transport to temporary lodging.
We just wanted them to know that the torture is over,” said Hedy Gupta, a grandmother handing out slabs of chocolate amid welcoming cheers. “I have children and a five-year-old grandchild and when I think what they have been through, these children, it leaves me on the ground.”
Beside her on the barricades of welcome was Waltraud Volger, a legal assistant who lives nearby: “I heard about it on the radio around 1pm today and just gathered what food and clothes I had and came over to donate it and offer to help,” she said. “They have so many volunteers that they haven’t needed me, so I’m just standing here welcoming them with clapping. I’ve never done anything like this before, but when you hear their stories and see the pictures, you can’t just stand by.”
After four hours, she had no plans to leave while the trains were still rolling in.

A refugee looks out of a train window
 A refugee looks out of a train window at the central station in Munich. Photograph: Nicolas Armer/dpa/Corbis
Refugees wait for the train
 Refugees wait for the train to Munich at the western railway station in Vienna. Photograph: Jörg Dieckmann/dpa/Corbis

مئات المهاجرين يصلون إلى مدينة ميونيخ الألمانية






وصول 6500 لاجئ إلى النمسا قادمين من المجر

ما وراء الخبر-ازدياد التوتر في السويداء السورية


واشنطن والرياض.. نحو شراكة إستراتيجية

آلاف اللاجئين يتدفقون من المجر إلى الحدود النمساوية

آلاف اللاجئين يتوجهون نحو الحدود النمساوية

Trains to Nowhere – Hungary’s harsh welcome for refugees

By Barbora Cernušáková, Hungary Researcher at Amnesty International, Bicske, Hungary (@BCernusakova), 

His brother just looked at him. The Pakistani man in his fifties lay lifeless beside a train track a few hundred metres from Bicske train station. It is unclear how he died, but he was trying to find a better life in Europe.
Both men were part of a larger group running away from a train that had been halted since yesterday in the Hungarian train station. Many other refugees and migrants are still refusing to leave the train because they don’t want to go to Hungarian reception centres.
This week, at the main Keleti station in Budapest and in Bicske, I witnessed a new low in the cruelty of the treatment of refugees in Hungary. After being barred from boarding trains for days, yesterday morning, the police at Keleti suddenly lifted the barriers.
This week, at the main Keleti station in Budapest and in Bicske, I witnessed a new low in the cruelty of the treatment of refugees in Hungary.
Barbora Cernusakova, Hungary Researcher at Amnesty International
Hundreds of people rushed to a train decorated with silhouettes hugging and celebrating and a prominently featured German flag. Many people desperate to leave Hungary after being stuck for days in dire conditions around the train station believed this train would take them to Germany, where scenes of residents welcoming refugees have beamed around the world in recent days. The carriages quickly filled and at about 11am the train departed.
But at Bicske, around 30 km outside Budapest, their journey came to an abrupt halt.
A Palestinian refugee from Syria who was on the train told me what happened:
“The train stopped. The police announced that we have to disembark otherwise they would use force. So we complied, opened the doors and started walking to the platform. Outside the station there were buses. The police were shouting and we saw smoke. I decided to escape so I walked away and continued along the railways hoping I was heading in the direction of Austria. But I was walking back to Budapest instead! Eventually I gave up and took a taxi back to Keleti [train station] for 30 euros.”
The retreat to Keleti must have been devastating for him as he knew only too well what awaited. Crowds of people have been stuck waiting at the station for days, even weeks, on end. They sleep on the hard floor, covered by their clothes and blankets or sheltered by tents distributed by volunteers. Nearby fast-food chains have turned into the main providers of sanitation facilities. Information on what will happen, as well as what options and rights people have, is scarce.
Hungary’s government washes its hands of Keleti and the wider situation of refugees in the country. They argue that the refugees don’t want to stay there anyway. But I don’t blame the refugees for wanting to leave.
Barbora Cernusakova
Hungary’s government washes its hands of Keleti and the wider situation of refugees in the country. They argue that the refugees don’t want to stay there anyway. But I don’t blame the refugees for wanting to leave. From the moment they cross the border, their interactions with the Hungarian institutions are fraught. Refugees referred to the facilities in the border area as “prisons” and “Guantánamo”, and they told me about rough treatment by the police officers, the lack of food and water and a refusal to provide access to sanitation facilities.
Dina, 46, came to Hungary on 14 August together with her son and his wife who is seven months pregnant. Border police detained them for 16 hours without giving them food or water. When I met her at Keleti, Dina had already bought train tickets to Germany. “I want to start a new life in peace… They are treating us like animals; worse than animals.”
I want to start a new life in peace… They are treating us like animals; worse than animals.
Dina, 46, who had bought train tickets to Germany
After registering their asylum applications in the border area, asylum seekers are given papers to sign which assign them to a reception centre. Most people we spoke to decided not to go to the centres. When I ask them why, I keep hearing the same answers: because these places are completely full, because of bad experiences in the border facilities, because they want to live normal lives. Amnesty International was denied permission to visit the reception centres, so we can only assume what those who were inside them tell us is true. What is the government hiding?
Prime Minister Viktor Orban told the European Parliament yesterday that “Talking about a [refugee] quota system without border control is an invitation for those who would like to come. [Creating] an impression that we would be able to accept everybody would be a moral failure.”
But Hungary is already failing, abysmally. The hastily erected border fence, the lack of assistance to people around the stations and on trains, the inadequate reception conditions and recent legislative reforms all have the same root cause: the desire to keep new arrivals out. These are not just moral failures, they are generating a raft of human rights violations.
The latest in a series of laws targeting migrants and refugees, voted on today, includes prison sentences for illegal border crossing and stiff sentences for damaging the border fence, to name but a few of Hungary’s latest initiatives.
As abysmal as Hungary’s response is, there is plenty of blame to go around.
Barbora Cernusakova

As abysmal as Hungary’s response is, there is plenty of blame to go around. For many, war and persecution were what drove them to leave their home countries in the first place. And once they reached Europe, they should not have to embark on yet another dangerous or even deadly journey.
Until European leaders finally agree on significant changes to Europe’s imploding asylum system, refugees will remain unwanted and unassisted in Hungary. Their dreams now derailed, they have no access to the protection they need, only trains to destinations unknown.

Syria's refugee crisis in numbers

4 September 2015, 19:28 UTC

Refugees in the region

More than 4 million refugees from Syria (95%) are in just five countries Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt:
  • Lebanon hosts approximately 1.2 million refugees from Syria which amounts to around one in five people in the country
  • Jordan hosts about 650,000 refugees from Syria, which amounts to about 10% of the population
  • Turkey hosts 1.9 million refugees from Syria, more than any other country worldwide
  • Iraq where 3 million people have been internally displaced in the last 18 months hosts249,463 refugees from Syria
  • Egypt hosts 132,375 refugees from Syria
The UN humanitarian appeal for Syrian refugees is just 40% funded.
Funding shortages mean that the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon receive just$13.50 per month or less than half a dollar a day for food assistance.
More than 80% of Syrian refugees in Jordan living below the local poverty line.

Conflict in Syria

Around 220,000 people have been killed and 12.8 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria
More than 50% of Syria’s population is currently displaced

International Resettlement

In total, 104,410 resettlement places have been offered globally since the start of the Syria crisis, which equates to a mere 2.6% of the total population of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Turkey.
400,000 people in the five main host countries - or 10% - are in need of resettlement according to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.
Amnesty International is calling for at least 10% of Syria’s most vulnerable refugees to be resettled from the main host countries by the end of 2016

Key facts:

  • Gulf countries including Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain have offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees.
  • Other high income countries including Russia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea have also offered zero resettlement places.
  • Germany has pledged 35,000 places for Syrian refugees through its humanitarian admission programme and individual sponsorship; about 75 % of the EU total.
  • Germany and Sweden together have received 47% Syrian asylum applications in the EU between April 2011 and July 2015
  • Excluding Germany and Sweden, the remaining 26 EU countries have pledged around8,700 resettlement places, or around 0.2% of Syrian refugees in the main host countries.

Hungary: no more buses for marching refugees - as it happened


Full coverage of the worst refugee crisis to hit Europe since the second world war

Afternoon summary

We’re closing the live blog now. If you’re a refugee who’s crossed the Mediterranean this summer - or you’re one of those who’s helping refugees, you can continue sharing your stories with us by contributing to Guardian Witness.
I’ve included all the significant developments from today below.
We will continue to cover the refugee crisis in our various reports from across Europe. Thanks for your comments.
Emma Graham-Harrison reports that in Munich station dozens of Germans have lined up behind police barriers to welcome the refugees to their new home, as a sophisticated operation provided food and transport to temporary lodging.
“We just wanted them to know that the torture is over,” said Hedy Gupta, a grandmother handing out slabs of chocolate and welcoming cheers. “I have children and a five year old grandchild of my own and when I think what they have been through these children, it leaves me on the ground.”
Beside her on the barricades of welcome was Waltraud Volger, a legal assistant who lives nearby. “I heard about it on the radio around one today and just gathered what food and clothes I had and came over to donate it and offer to help. They have so many volunteers though that they haven’t needed me so I’m just standing here welcoming the with clapping.
“I’ve never done anything like this before, but when you hear their stories and see the pictures you can’t just stand by.” Four hours in she had no plans to leave if the trains are still rolling in.
Hedy Gupta (left) and Waltraud Volger (right)
 Hedy Gupta (left) and Waltraud Volger (right) Photograph: The Guardian
Mona Mahmood has spoken to Rami Abu Ali, a Syrian refugee from Quneitra city in Syria, who left his hometown last July to escape the war and find a safe country for his wife and daughter. Rami now is in a camp in Nonberg in Germany. Read his story below:
I’m glad I finally got in Germany, it is a great country that really understands the plight of the Syrian refugees. The service offered by the camp in Nonberg is good and I can’t wait for my wife and daughter to join me. I’m concerned about the huge number of refugees flooding daily to Germany, it might make the process of getting reunited with my family take a long time, however, I do not advise my family or any other Syrian refugees to smuggle themselves to Europe.
It is much better that a member of the family would come here and then bring the whole family. I can’t forget the scenes of fear and terror sustained by women and kids when more than 50 refugee were crammed in a small boat and pushed in the sea among the high waves by the smuggler. I was hesitant to go to Azmir in Turkey to find a smuggler after the horrible stories I heard from my friends who took the same route. But my father was worried about me and he gave me $1000 to pay the smuggler and go to Europe.
I have always been too scared of the sea and never been in a boat all my life, but there was no time to rethink. At midnight, the boat would leave you and you would lose your money. My heart was jumping with every high wave which would take the boat up and down among the shouts and screams of the kids and women.
I feel lucky that my attempt to get to Greece was successful from the fist time, my friend who was sitting beside in the boat told me, “ Believe me this is the 15th attempt, I hope I will make it this time. I can’t bear be in prison any more.”
All the way to Hungry, the refugees were concern of being forced to have fingerprints and sent back to Serbia. The only way to avoid the Hungarian authorities was to pay a smuggler another $1700 to take you to Germany, but I had run out of money and had to spend night in parks and forests with little food.
I walked all the way to Germany and then handed myself over to the first police station I found after I had crossed the borders. I jumped out of joy when the Germans decided to waive the fingerprint and spare me the fear of being sent back to Hungary. Now, I’m in a camp in Nonberg where I have housing and three meals. I get also €183 per a month to buy some cigarettes and Internet units to phone my family in Syria and make sure they are safe and to prepare themselves to join me. I thank God that the nightmare of being killed in Syria or drowning in the sea is over and I can start a new life.
A newborn migrant boy was found dead early on Saturday after his parents reached the steep shores of the Greek island of Agathonisi in a boat from Turkey, the Greek coastguard service said. The baby boy was taken to hospital on the nearby island of Samos, where he was pronounced dead.
Greece is struggling to cope with the hundreds of migrants and refugees from the war inSyria making the short crossing every day from Turkey to Greece’s eastern islands, including Kos, Lesbos, Samos and Agathonisi. Thousands are waiting to be identified and ferried to Athens to continue their trip to other European countries. 
Premier League football clubs are considering what steps to take to help Syrian refugees as the migration crisis continues to escalate. German clubs have led the way when it comes to donations and other initiatives and, although far more refugees have reached Germany than the UK, some clubs in England are monitoring the situation to see what they can do to help, while others are already helping.
In a statement, West Bromwich Albion told the Guardian, who tried to contact all 20 clubs on Friday: “The club and its charity partner, the Albion Foundation, has developed a number of its own initiatives which support people in need – whether that be in the west Midlands, Africa or Asia.
“The current refugee crisis is a matter of grave concern which will be given full consideration by the club at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime we are obviously willing to support any initiatives to help raise the profile of the issue.”
Photographer Nilüfer Demir has explained the moment she shot the picture of Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless body washing ashore Turkey’s Aegean coast. In a new interview, Demir said:
At that moment, when I saw the three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, I was petrified.
[He] was lying lifeless face down in the surf, in his red t-shirt and dark blue shorts folded to his waist. The only thing I could do was to make his outcry heard.
Galip [his brother] was lying 100 meters away. I approached him this time. I noticed they didn’t have any lifejackets on them, any arm floats, anything to help them to float in the water.

Germany can cope with refugees without raising taxes, says Merkel

Angela Merkel has said Germany can cope with a record influx of refugees this year without raising taxes and without jeopardising its balanced budget.
More than 100,000 asylum seekers entered Germany in August, and the about 800,000 refugees and migrants are expected in the country in total this year - four times last year’s level.
In light of the influx, the government plans to introduce a supplementary budget to free up funds for the refugees and to help towns on the frontline that are already struggling to fund accommodation and medical care for the new arrivals.
But Reuters reports that in an interview with local newspapers, Merkel promised that Berlin would not raise taxes because of the refugee crisis. Berlin’s comfortable budgetary position is making it easier to master such “unexpected tasks”, Merkel said, adding that the refugee crisis was the government’s priority now.
Officials have said that thanks to higher-than-expected tax revenues, Berlin could have leeway for extra public spending of up to 5 billion euros this year.

Hungary police chief says no more buses for marchers

Hungary’s police chief said that buses are no longer being provided to transfer migrants to the Austrian border. “The provision of buses towards Austria was a one-off and there will be no more vehicles sent to refugees walking along the road” Karoly Papp told a news conference.
Hungary’s provision of around 90 buses followed a march on Friday towards Austria by around 1,200 migrants from Budapest’s Keleti train station. Today at least 500 people began a second march towards Austria.
Emma Graham-Harrison has been with the new arrivals and those who missed the overnight buses at Budapest’s Keleti station. She reports that dozens of determined refugees, mostly Syrian, marched into the station at almost military pace.
“We are going to Germany, we don’t have time to talk” said one as the group poured down into the metro before someone realised they had got the wrong train network and the station disgorged them again.
On the mainline platforms where something like ordinary service was resuming, after days of signs warning no international trains were running, they stormed onto carriages of one train but again turned back when inspectors said it would not cross the border.
Determined to keep their momentum and the advantage numbers gave, the group decided to set off for the border on foot again, chasing the success of Friday’s thousands of breakaways.
“Police caught us near the Syrian border, detained us and took us all to a camp where they locked us up and fingerprinted us,” said a Syrian preparing to set off on foot with his two year old daughter Yara. “We shouted at them to let us go to Keleti, to travel on to the border. Eventually they did.”
Amit Sandhu has spoken to Tom Radcliffe, who helped set up a crowdfund for his Help Calais campaign hoping to reach £1,000. Radcliffe said within days the campaign went “bananas” and he has now raised more than £47,000.
The 49 year-old acting teacher from Kent is now staying up late organising the distribution of the money and getting up in the early hours of the morning to move supplies, sandwiching his day job in between. He said the campaign really picked up this week as people started realising what was actually happening in Europe.
The press changed suddenly - they realised these weren’t economic migrants they are refugees.
I think that was when families started realising what was really happening.
People realised that the stuff they were being fed about Calais was nonsense.
My friend who’s a builder who voted Ukip has completely changed his mind.
Two weeks ago he was saying we should send the army out and now he is going to drive to Europe in his truck and help build shelters.
Something has changed in the country at large.