Migrants protest as Hungary shutters Budapest train station

Migrants protest as Hungary shutters Budapest train station
# 01 September 2015 17:27 (UTC +04:00)

Around 1,000 people waved tickets, clapping, booing and hissing, and shouting "Germany! Germany!" outside the station. Later they sat down, staring at a police blockade erected at the entrance.

Hungarian authorities closed the train station altogether, then reopened it but barred entry to the migrants. About 100 police in helmets and wielding batons guarded the station. Dozens of migrants who were inside were forced out.

The decision to bar the migrants from westbound trains was a reversal from the previous day, when Hungary and Austria let trainloads of undocumented migrants leave for Germany, a violation of EU rules they now have little power to enforce.

The arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants has confounded Europe, which has eliminated border controls for travel between 26 countries of its Schengen area but requires those seeking asylum to remain in the country where they first arrive until their applications are processed.

The vast majority of refugees fleeing violence and other migrants escaping poverty first arrive on Europe's southern and eastern edges but are determined to press on and seek asylum in richer and more generous countries further north and west.

Hungary is on a major overland transit route from the Middle East and Africa through Greece and the Balkans to Germany. More than 140,000 people have crossed into Hungary from Serbia this year alone.

European leaders want the EU to do more to organize the unprecedented influx, help separate those deserving asylum from those who can be safely sent home and share the burden of accepting them across the 28-nation bloc.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said refugees with valid asylum claims should be distributed among EU countries according to their capacity to host them.

For those refugees who are being persecuted or have fled war, there should be a fair distribution in Europe based on the economic strength, productivity and size of each country," she told a joint news conference in Berlin with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

For now, however, there is no mechanism in place to distribute refugees or to enforce the so-called "Dublin rules", which require asylum seekers to apply in the first EU country where they arrive.

Berlin said the Dublin rules must still be enforced.

"Whoever comes to Hungary must get registered there and go through the asylum procedure there," a German Interior Ministry spokesman said.

German Labor Minister Andrea Nahles said the influx of refugees and migrants would mean an additional 240,000-460,000 people would be entitled to German social benefits next year, costing the government 3.3 billion euros ($3.7 billion).