Standoff between refugees on train, police enters second day in Hungary


BUDAPEST: Refugees who had hoped to move on from Hungary stubbornly remained on a stalled train Friday, refusing to go to a center where authorities are demanding that they register.

Police remained on watch at Bicske, a town northwest of Budapest that holds one of the country’s five camps for asylum seekers — facilities the migrants want to avoid because they don’t want to pursue asylum claims in economically depressed Hungary. Nearly all hope to go to Germany.

Police offered the refugees water, fruits and sweets but many of them refused, shouting “No food! No food!” in protest.

The head of police border control, Col Laszlo Balazs, said 16 people voluntarily checked into the asylum center on Thursday, while about 500 others refused.

In Geneva, the head of the UN refugee agency called for the European Union to take “urgent and courageous measures” to deal with the crisis.

Agency chief Antonio Guterres said refugees should benefit from a mass relocation program and called for authorities to crack down on human smugglers.

His comments Friday came a day after a round of recriminations among EU leaders.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said the human wave is a German problem, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the obligation to protect refugees “applies not just in Germany, but in every European member.”

Orban has warned European partners that he intends to make his country’s borders an impassable fortress for new arrivals. His chief of staff, Janos Lazar, said 160,000 migrants had reached Hungary this year, 90,000 of them in the past two months alone.

On Hungarian state radio Friday morning Orban reiterated his fears that Europeans will end up “a minority in our own continent.”

“Today we are talking about tens of thousands but next year we will be talking about millions and this has no end,” Orban said.

“We have to make it clear that we can’t allow everyone in, because if we allow everyone in, Europe is finished,” Orban went on. “If you are rich and attractive to others, you also have to be strong because if not, they will take away what you have worked for and you will be poor, too.”

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