Thursday, September 3, 2015

Refugees Continue to Struggle in Hungary

Thousands of refugees, mainly from Syria, have been stuck at Budapest's Keleti railway station for days, if not weeks. Immediate help hasn't been provided by the government during this period. Instead, it's often been Hungarian locals and aid workers who've gone out to help these people get the very basics they need to survive. 

The journey's been extremely long for those fleeing war-torn countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. Yet, it seems far from over. Even after many have risked everything to make it to Europe, most often having to pay smugglers, they still aren't out of harm's way. 

Not only has the sentiment in Hungary been strikingly harsh against these victims of war, refugee centers in target destinations like Germany have found themselves repeatedly attacked, something Prime Minister Angela Merkel has fiercely condemned. 

The refugee crisis that's been most discernible in entrance countries like Hungary, Greece and Italy had prompted Prime Minister Viktor Orban to propose, and then swiftly move to erect a 175-kilometer long border fence along Hungary's border with Serbia. 

The move was arguably an attempt to avoid any culpability on Hungary's side, in accordance with the Dublin Regulation. The agreement would make it possible to send back all those who've entered Europe and made their way west to the country they first entered and registered as asylum seekers. 

This was primarily why Hungary's Prime Minister sought to so quickly block the flow of entering migrants. Perhaps his advisors and top aides had not considered, however, the impact of news of Hungary's plans spreading like wildfire. The number of refugees entering has only increased in recent weeks because of this move. 

Furthermore, the fence, while pushing people to hurriedly arrive in Hungary, is not a real barrier for people. Refugees who've been threatened with death many times over hardly allow a fence to stop them.  

What was an attempt to slow the crisis has exponentially increased suffering for thousands of people whose only hope it's been to find somewhere safe to live. For the people who've been stuck in Hungary's capital, the stay has been all but pleasant. Many have openly stated they wish to move onto countries like Sweden, Germany, and the United Kingdom. 

These are the countries with established facilities that are willing to accept migrants. Germany has moved to make entry for asylum seekers, especially those from Syria, easier. 

Getting to Germany from Hungary now remains the biggest obstacle. Refugees seeking to leave Hungary have often been denied the right to buy train and plane tickets without visas. But, after Germany moved to set aside the items of the Dublin Agreement, Hungary allowed the weary and fed-up people to finally make their way onwards. 

Confusion grew again as police barred the entry to Keleti Railway station without proper documentation and visas. This move came after a German Interior Ministry Spokesman reaffirmed that Germany would abide by the Dublin Regulation. 

Migrants have been protesting throughout this period. The police presence has made the atmosphere uneasy and some of the refugees even think they're having fun watching their suffering. 

Now, migrants have again been allowed onto trains heading West. Yet, they know little of what is actually happening and where they're being taken. Some think they'll be getting close to the boarder with Austria, others have heard they're being transported to a town with a refugee camp. 

Refugees at the center of this crisis have shown that they are entirely fed up with waiting. They rioted in Macedonia, forcing the government to allow them to move through the border and onto Serbia, before Hungary. 

The crisis has shown clearly the lack of coordination between several key EU countries. An emergency summit is scheduled for the 14th of September. One can only hope that this bridges the commitment of the key EU nations through which refugees are entering and to which they are headed. 

For now, they can only wait and hope. 

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