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(In a series of reports, Hungary-based BosNewsLife follows what is now Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War Two. Many Christians fleeing conflict zones are also among them. New Europe covers news developments in the (former) Communist nations of Europe and the Soviet Union impacting the Church and/or compassionate professionals).
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife reporting from Budapest and border areas
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– Pope Francis call for solidarity with migrants fleeing war and poverty amid Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War Two comes while Hungary’s government says it has completed a razor-wire barrier near the border with Serbia. It is among several measures Hungary is taking to halt back refugees after some 150,000 migrants reportedly entered the country illegally this year alone. In Budapest refugees have demanded safe passage to the West during spontaneous demonstrations over the weekend.
Refugees from Syria and other nations shouted “Let us go”, “Let us go” and “Germany, Germany” at Budapest’s Keleti (East) railway station. Many arrived after breaking through a barrier of three rolls of sharp NATO-standard razor wire that Hungary says it has completed along its entire175 kilometer (109 miles) border with Serbia.
Scuffles broke out during the night between police and refugees who attempted to climb over the barrier. That group of roughly 150 people was eventually allowed to enter Hungary but the incident has underscored mounting tensions. Right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government also wants to complete a four meter (12 feet) high fence behind the razor wire at the Hungarian-Serbian border.
Additionally more then 2100 police will be send to the area and the government plans to use the army and to punish migrants fleeing war and poverty with up to four years imprisonment if they break through the fence. That has not remained unnoticed at the Keleti station where people lit candles to remember the 71 refugees, including women and children, who suffocated in a truck found in neighboring Austria last week.
Hungarian police said Sunday they have detained a fifth suspect, a Bulgarian, in the case. A Hungarian court already remanded three other Bulgarians and an Afghan in custody until September 29, though they have denied wrongdoing.
But refugees here suggest that allowing them free passage to the West would mean less work for human traffickers. They also fear more tragedies. In fact,
Hungarian police said Sunday that 17 migrants including three children and two men were freed from a truck and that two suspected Hungarian smugglers involved in transporting them were detained, while in Austria Austrian police said three severely dehydrated children were rescued from another vehicle Friday containing 26 Syrians, Bangladeshis and Afghans near the border with Germany.
Pope Francis has called for effective cooperation against in his words crimes that offend all humanity. Some Hungarian volunteers are already tending to desperate migrants at the Keleti station, including Tamás Léderer. “The police chase the people out here or out there. This migrant crisis came to early for Europe. In don’t think that the ‘European building’ has the strength and is wise enough to handle a crisis like this,” he said.
And thousands of refugees continue to arrive in Hungary, including women and children. Some have reportedly been injured when they tried to climb over the razor wire fence. It’s the latest setback for Syrian Christians and others who still recover from the mental and often physical pain they endured back home as they try to seek a new life.