Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

Trains packed with migrants arrive in Vienna

  • Police at the Westbahnhof station looked on as volunteers handed out water. (Photo: mr_dd)

Hundreds of people seeking refuge arrived at Vienna’s Westbahnhof station from the Hungarian capital Budapest on Monday (31 August), with most seeking to head on to Germany.

Tensions remained high at Budapest’s Keleti railway station on Tuesday morning as migrants eagerly awaited the next train to Munich.

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  • Migrants at Keleti train station, in Budapest (Photo: Eszter Zalan)

Hundreds of migrants tried to get on the last train leaving Budapest for the German city on Monday evening, but were told to wait until the morning.

Hungary has been stopping migrants from boarding international trains since mid-August, even if they had valid tickets.

But that policy seemed to have changed on Monday, as thousands of migrants demanded to be allowed to leave for Germany.

Over the weekend, protests erupted at the railway station with migrants wanting to leave for Germany chanted: "Germany Yes! Hungary No! Let us leave!”.

Andras Giro-Szasz, a spokesperson for the Hungarian government, said Germany should clarify the legal status of migrants travelling within the EU.

Germany has said it will allow Syrian asylum-seekers to stay, even if they have no documents.

Zoltan Kovacs, another government spokesperson, said that under EU rules migrants cannot travel freely without documents.

"People at Budapest’s Keleti railway station demanding to be allowed free passage are demanding something which is not possible under European legislation”, Kovacs said.

A record 8,792 migrants making their way into Hungary were detained over the weekend by police.

Austrian authorities said they would send train passengers who had already applied for asylum back to Hungary.

But AFP reports that police at the Westbahnhof station looked on as volunteers handed out water.

The arrivals on Monday coincided with a demonstration of some 20,000 people in Vienna in support of migrant rights.

They also came as senior officials marked the deaths of 71 people who died in the back of a lorry last week.

The lorry was found abandoned on the A4 motorway near the town of Parndorf, prompting Austrian authorities to step up border security controls with neighbouring countries. The victims are thought to be Syrian refugees.

Five people linked to the tragedy have been arrested.

The EU’s passport-free Schengen area bans systematic border controls, but allows authorities to conduct random security checks.

National authorities can also reintroduce border controls at internal borders for up to 30 days in case of a serious threat to public safety or internal security.

“The police can carry out checks but they shouldn’t have an equivalent to border checks", said an EU official.

Germany takes political lead on migration crisis

Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel has said the EU must act to address the migration crisis, or Europe's "close association with the universal rights of citizens will be destroyed".

Eurostar suspended after people seen on tracks

Eurostar passengers were stranded for hours as migrants tried to enter the tunnel to make it to the UK. The European Commission has promised new migration plans next week.

Libya return demand triggers reintegration headaches

The UN migration agency (IOM) had planned to help return and reintegrate 5,000 people from Libya to their home countries, but ended up aiding 20,000 in 2017. The extra demand has piled on the pressure.

Frontex naval operation to look for 'foreign fighters'

The EU border and coast guard agency, or Frontex, has launched a new naval operation called Themis. The operation replaces its surveillance Triton mission but with a bigger emphasis on security and intelligence gathering.

Frontex naval operation to look for 'foreign fighters'

The EU border and coast guard agency, or Frontex, has launched a new naval operation called Themis. The operation replaces its surveillance Triton mission but with a bigger emphasis on security and intelligence gathering.

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