Long lines of buses have left Hungary’s capital Budapest packed with people bound for Austria, which says it has agreed with Germany to let them in as Hungary gives in to crowds, including Syrian refugees, that had set out on foot for western Europe.
Hungary’s government said on Saturday about 100 buses would pick up thousands of people camped in front of Budapest’s main railway terminus and another 1,200 striding down the main highway to Vienna led by a Syrian refugee and chanting “Germany, Germany!”
Austria said they would be granted entry, regardless of European Union rules. Smiling refugees boarded the buses, waving goodbye to Hungarian volunteers and aid workers.
“Because of today’s emergency situation on the Hungarian border, Austria and Germany agree in this case to a continuation of the refugees’ journey into their countries,” Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said on his Facebook page.
The Hungarian government cited safety concerns for the decision to deploy buses, after days of cancelled trains and confrontation with riot police refusing to let the refugees pass.
But it appeared to mark an admission that the government had lost control in the face of overwhelming numbers of refugees determined to reach western Europe, having fled war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
For days, Hungary has cancelled all trains going west to Austria and Germany, saying it is obliged under EU rules to register all asylum seekers, who should remain there until their requests are processed.
Many have refused, determined to get to the richer and more generous countries of northern and western Europe, mainly Germany.
Several thousand had been camped outside the Budapest train station, but on Friday a crowd that swelled to over 1,000 broke away, trudging through the city over a bridge and out onto the main highway from Budapest to Vienna, escorted by police struggling to keep the road open.
Clutching pictures of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, they broke through a police barricade.
Others, in Bicske to the west of Budapest, walked along railway tracks, escaping a packed train held back by police for two days, while in the south they broke down barriers and wrestled with helmeted riot officers at an overcrowded border camp near Serbia.
Source: Al Jazeera