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Keleti Station 8th September Evening

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About a dozen police officers stationed at Platform number 8 where Syrian refugees attempted to board trains to Hegyeshalom, the last station before the Austrian border.  The officer I asked told me that any passenger with a valid ticket would be allowed to board.

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September 5th Keleti Station Budapest

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DSC_6054The situation is confused today.  At Keleti a board announced the departure of a train to Hegyeshalom at 18.10 which is about 5 kilometers from the Austrian border. The station staff at the platform said they had no instructions to prevent refugees from boarding.  Some Hungarian volunteers milled around with a sign announcing this train.  People seemed sceptical and seemed to be waiting for buses.  I say seemed because almost no one spoke anything but Arabic so it was very difficult to just ask people what they planned to do.  I found someone who spoke both Hungarian and Arabic and told her about the train but when she told some families around us, all expressed reluctance and diffidence.  At that point someone else said that the Austrians had closed their border so they were staying put.  DSC_6067

DSC_6064Members of Jobbik Youth (the Youth organisation of the extreme right party of that same name) were also hanging around taking photographs and being filmed.  I asked them why they were there and they said there had been a demonstration in front of the Interior Ministry that afternoon but when I pressed them for more, they said they were unwilling to talk and an older man appeared and he said that he should speak on their behalf.  He did not want to talk either saying that he didn’t think I would accurately report what he would say. The Jobbik website today proudly announces that they have succeeded in preventing the building of a transit camp in Budapest.  The solution they recommend is to spend money on buses to take them away.

Some refugees held up signs which had been handed out by Migrant aid, warning people against traffickers.

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Police reinforcements deployed at Keleti to prevent refugees entering the station

DSC_5878DSC_5877 copySyrian refugee child at Keleti last night. His family were happy to have their tickets and that they would soon be boarding the train. They did well to get away. This morning the government sent in police reinforcements to prevent refugees from even entering the station even though they had previously been allowed to purchase tickets. A loudspeaker announcement informed people that according to EU law, only those with valid Schengen visas would be allowed to travel. A complete U-turn.

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A Family of Syrian Refugees at Keleti Station Budapest

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They didn’t want their faces photographed because it was too risky.  The father told us his story in Arabic with a kind volunteer interpreter helping out.  There were three children who were clearly very tired.  The lovely twelve year old daughter spoke some English, enough to say that her mother was still in Syria.  The father looked haggard and shellshocked and I wondered if he was protecting the children from some terrible knowledge.  They were cold and fearful.  They were making their way to “Allemania” but realised that they would not be welcome but there was no choice but to press on.  I returned to the station later with some warm cast-offs and the family was still sitting on the same stone step.  The girl seemed to be trying to sleep but she was crying in quiet despair.  There are thousands of people like this.  What are we going to do?

 

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