1 000s of refugees in limbo outside Budapest station

2015-09-02 19:56
A migrant holds up train ticket in front of the Keleti Station in Budapest, Hungary. (Petr David Josek, AP)

A migrant holds up train ticket in front of the Keleti Station in Budapest, Hungary. (Petr David Josek, AP)

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Budapest - About 3 000 refugees are camping on the street outside Budapest's main Keleti station, in limbo, blocked by police from entering to board trains to Austria or Germany. But they've come too far to turn back.

Some huddle in the small tents they carried, others sit on blankets, many only have the bare ground. The facilities include one water tap and four mobile toilets.

They form serpentine queues for a meal, handed out by the workers at the Migration Aid organisation.

Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos said on Wednesday that the authorities will build a tent camp for refugees near the main train station in the city within two weeks.

"That is not our job, but we are doing it out of conscience and to overcome the situation for our own protection," said Tarlos, an ally of conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The Budapest city authorities have allocated 373 million forints ($1.33m) for the provisional camp to shelter between 800 and 1 000 refugees.

Most of the people outside Keleti station are from Syria. They fled the civil war at home, overcame blockades at Macedonia's border with Greece and a razor-wire barricade between Hungary and Serbia, to reach Budapest.

Among them is Hadi, a 3-year-old boy from the Syrian capital, Damascus. He sits on a blanket as the crowd around him swells.

"He suffers from Down syndrome. My child is very tired," says his mother, Rasha. He needs to see a doctor, she says, and lifts his shirt to show a colon bag.

The family, including Hadi's brother, who is 6, are determined to reach Sweden and join other relatives.

Aid workers from the Hungarian organisation MigSzol said that many refugees have a destination in mind, usually one where they have family or friends willing to help.

Hadi's family has bought train tickets for Munich, Germany, but cannot use them unless the Hungarian authorities let them pass.

On Monday, police briefly lifted the blockade, allowing several thousand people to board trains and eventually reach Austria and Germany.

Orban is due to discuss the migration crisis with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday. The country has requested €8m in emergency EU funds to increase its reception capacities.

Read more on:    hungary  |  migrants

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