Train of Hope: Refugees Welcomed in Austria & Germany, Delayed in Hungary


Refugees escaping war and violence in the Middle East who make it to Europe still endure a journey fraught with danger and inhumane treatment. Tens of thousands of people greeted refugees with open arms as they passed through Austria en route to their final destinations in Germany where they are being welcomed in large numbers. Other refugees are currently stranded in Hungary, waiting to board trains and continue their journey forward to safe havens.

A heartwarming demonstration of between 20K to 30K people in Vienna welcomed refugees. Citizens rallied in protest of the inhumane treatment of refugees after 71 people were found suffocated to death in a refrigerated truck last week. The large protest started at Christian Broda Square and ended in front of Parliament around 9pm. The mood at the demo was extremely peaceful, many families with children participated.

Rally supporting refugees in front of parliament August 31 - Vienna, Austria

Rally supporting refugees in front of Parliament August 31 – Vienna, Austria Photo: Daniel Hrncir

Afterwards, hundreds of people went to Westbahnhof Railway Station to bring food, supplies and a warm welcome to the last train of refugees arriving a few minutes before midnight.

VIDEO: Refugees welcome – Austria lets thousands pass from Hungary to Germany

Journalist Jonas Reis from WienTV was present at the demonstration and at the station:

“It was unbelievable to be there – at the 20k demonstration and even more when refugees were welcomed at the train station – and hundreds of people organised translating, food and accommodations. Austrian railway also showed lots of efforts, many worked for free in the evening and night … it was unbelievable and so beautiful.”

Several trains reached Vienna from Budapest yesterday, all continued on to Germany except the final train which arrived at 11:50 pm at Westbahnhof in Vienna.

“Countless individuals brought and continue to bring donations #westbahnhof #refugeeswelcome”

A refugee child sleeps in a train to Austria at a train station in Budapest, Hungary, August 31 Photo: @Chara_fc

A refugee child sleeps in a train to Austria at a train station in Budapest, Hungary, August 31
Photo: @Chara_fc

ALSO READ: Citizens of Hamburg Welcome Refugees With Celebration

Delays began in Hungary when police closed #Keleti train station in Budapest, evacuated all people from inside the station and shut down the trains.

VIDEO: Budapest Keleti: thousands waiting to board the last train to Munich and Zurich

Exhausted from their long journey and confused due to lack of communication regarding why trains were stopped, refugees in Budapest began to protest outside the train station.

VIDEO: Keleti September 1, 2015

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticized Hungary over the weekend for setting up a 175-kilometre-long, four-meter-high fence on its southern border with Serbia to stop the influx of refugees.

On Sunday, Fabius called it “scandalous” the way certain Eastern European countries behaved during the current refugee crisis.

“With regard to all those people who are politically chased out of their country, we have to be able to welcome them,” he said.

“Every country has to respond to that. France, Germany, others have, but when I see certain countries that do not accept these groups, I find that scandalous,” Fabius said in interview to French radio Europe.

Keleti station reopened at 10am on Tuesday following the closure however travel restrictions have been implemented and hundreds of refugees are still waiting for trains to continue west.

A government spokesman said Hungary was trying to enforce EU law, which requires anyone who wishes to travel in the borderless Schengen zone to hold a valid passport and visa.

State railway company MÁV said authorities will let only those aboard who have the necessary travel documents or visas if necessary. Entrance is being controlled and a person may buy only as many tickets as many valid identification documents he/she can present. Without such documents no more than two tickets may be purchased.

“Why have they sold us return tickets? We are refugees, we are one-way,” said Mohammed, who had travelled from Damascus with his uncle and cousins. “These people are thieves.”

A sit-in continues in front of Keleti station at the time of publishing.

Meanwhile as refugees remain stranded in Budapest, thousands are arriving in various cities in Germany.

VIDEO: Auxiliary staff at Salzburg train station

At least 1000 refugees have already arrived in Munich and Frankfurt. The Red Cross provided supplies to some 1500 refugees who spent the night in Salzburg Central Station before moving on to Munich on Tuesday.

Volunteers had already organized on Facebook and started to feed the refugees. The Salzburg magistrate quickly directed a crisis unit, composed of the Head of the Office of Public Order, Michael Haybäck, Chief Executive Director Martin Floss and Andreas Huber, head of the criminal investigation department of the city of Salzburg. The deputy national police chief Burghard Vouk was present.

The volunteers took care of the refugees administered drinks, fruit, blankets and hygiene items.

“Most of the refugees were hypoglycaemic and dehydrated,” says team leader Martin Huber.

A separate area with camp beds was set up especially for mothers with children so they could rest overnight.

“In addition to many young children, some pregnant women who needed to be fed were present,” says operations manager Huber.

We will continue to monitor the situation and update as information develops.


About Author

Erin Gallagher is a multimedia artist, translator and writer for Revolution News.