BUDAPEST. — Hungarian police halted a train packed with migrants bound for the Austrian border and tried to force them to disembark in a town with a detention camp yesterday, a confrontation that has become a focus of Europe’s migration crisis.
After shutting migrants out of the main train station in the capital Budapest for two days, authorities allowed exhausted and confused migrants to board a west-bound train.
Hundreds crammed aboard clinging to doors and squeezing their children through open carriage windows.
But instead of proceeding to the Austrian border, the train was stopped just west of Budapest in the town of Bicske, where Hungary has a migration reception centre, and police ordered the migrants off.
Police cleared one carriage, while five more stood at the station in the heat. Fearing detention, some migrants banged on windows chanting “No camp! No camp!”
One group pushed back dozens of riot police guarding a stairwell to fight their way back on board. One family – a man, his wife and their toddler – made their way along the track next to the train and lay down in protest.
It took a dozen riot police wrestling with the man to get them up again.
Thousands of people have died at sea and scores have perished on land in Europe’s worst migration crisis since the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.
European public opinion was galvanised by images of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy face down in the surf on a Turkish beach which appeared on the front pages of newspapers across the continent yesterday.
“He had a name: Alyan Kurdi. Urgent action required – A Europe-wide mobilisation is urgent,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Twitter of the boy, one of at least 12 people who died out of a group of 23 who attempted to reach a Greek island.
The influx has strained the European Union’s asylum system to breaking point, sowing division among its 28 nations and feeding the rise of right-wing populists.
The major EU countries have taken sharply opposing positions on whether to offer welcome.
Germany plans to receive 800 000 refugees this year, while Britain has set up a program to allow in vulnerable Syrians that has admitted just 216.
“As one of the world’s richest countries, with good infrastructure, a viable welfare state and a solid budget surplus, we are in a position to rise to the occasion,” German Labour and Social Affairs Minister Andrea Nahles said at a briefing ahead of a G20 meeting in Turkey.
By contrast, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday the problem could not be solved by Britain taking more refugees.
Nearly all of the migrants arrive on the EU’s southern and eastern edges but press on for richer countries further north and west, creating havoc for a bloc that normally allows free movement internally but restricts it for undocumented migrants. — Reuters.