2 Sep 2015

Thousands of refugees stranded outside Budapest station

Migrants stage protests in Budapest as authorities refuse to let them board trains towards Germany.

The protesters are amongst more than 2,000 refugees camping for a second day outside around Budapest’s Keleti train station, in a bid to continue their journey across Europe.

Many of them were chanting “freedom, freedom” as they demanded to be let onto trains, however the station remains closed to asylum seekers as Hungarian police attempt to manage the huge influx of people.

In a statement, police officers said the volume of refugees arriving from Serbia and elsewhere “continues to grow by the hour”.

Authorities in the capital are working with colleagues from Austria, Germany and Slovakia to identify asylum seekers travelling illegally on other Hungarian trains.

“A train ticket does not overwrite EU rules”- Zoltán Kovács, Hungarian government spokesman

Government spokesman Zoltán Kovács said they were not letting refugees through as they are adhering to European Union rules, which states that people travelling within Europe must have a valid passport.

“In the territory of the EU, illegal migrants can travel onwards only with valid documents and observing EU rules,” he said. “A train ticket does not overwrite EU rules.”

He added that Hungary’s strong stance on preventing refugees from travelling on to Germany and other EU countries within the Schengen area is “protecting Europe”.

“With regard to the Hungarian government’s measures, it is important to emphasise that Hungary is not only protecting its own borders, but also the external borders of the European Union, as the protection of Schengen borders is the responsibility of all Member States,” Mr Kovács said.

“If we do not succeed in restoring order and legality here, illegal migration – including that of refugees, who are truly in need of protection – will become completely unmanageable.”

‘Germany’s problem’

Mr Kovács said that the refugees who are demanding entrance to other EU member states are “demanding something that is not possible under European legislation”.

Germany, however, has begun accepting asylum claims from Syrian refugees regardless of where they entered the EU, which has caused confusion to member states and Mr Kovács said Germany must clarify its position.

“The problem is being caused by Germany’s recent announcement of a more flexible attitude towards illegal immigrants declaring Syria to be their country of origin.

“Despite the provisions of EU legislation, media reports on this matter have built up the hopes of illegal immigrants. The resulting confusion has often created unclear circumstances and situations which are difficult to manage.

“The Hungarian government requests that Germany clarifies the legal situation, in order to eliminate this ambiguity and controversy,” he said.

Czech police will allow onward travel

Meanwhile, Czech police have announced that they will stop detaining Syrian migrants who have claimed asylum in Hungary but are attempting to travel to Germany, according to local media in the country.

EU rules dictate that migrants should remain in the first country they arrive in, however thousands are using local transport to reach the wealthier western European countries, with the majority determined to reach Germany.

Under EU regulations and the Schengen agreement, people are allowed to move freely between 26 EU countries without a passport.

Those who are not part of the agreement include Britain, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia, plus non-EU members Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. EU rules also state that refugees must stay in the first EU country they reach, but thousands are trying to reach richer western countries such as Germany.

Germany is expected to see 800,000 refugees enter the country this year – more than any other European country.