Sept. 14, 2015: Refugees arrive at the border between Austria and Hungary near Heiligenkreuz. (AP/Christian Bruna)
Germany resumed train service from Austria Monday after suspending it for about 12 hours in an attempt to better prepare for the wave of Syrian refugees streaming across its border.
Germany has been the final destination for many refugees trying to escape the violence in their homeland that has them caught between President Bashar Assad’s forces and terror groups like ISIS. They have either traveled over land via Turkey and the Balkans or braved the dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossing to Italy or Greece.
The temporary halt to train service was “not about a closing of borders and absolutely not a suspension of the basic rights to asylum,” Germany’s Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel insisted, defending the weekend’s border controls in a letter to his Social Democratic Party.
Gabriel estimates the country will take in 1 million refugees from the Middle East, Africa and Asia this year. The number of people expected to seek refugee status has grown from initial estimates of 800,000.
Meantime, dozens of Hungarian police are blocking a key rail passing, halting hundreds of migrants in their tracks. Police say they plan to block the rail line itself later with a train cargo container.
Police are instead directing migrants to head through farm fields to Hungary’s nearest approved border crossing 1 mile to the west.
“Not about a closing of borders and absolutely not a suspension of the basic rights to asylum”
– Sigmar Gabriel, German Vice Chancellor
In Austria, the interior minister declared Monday his country will follow Germany’s lead in introducing border checks. Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said he would deploy the country’s military to the border with Hungary to help police dealing with the refugee surge if needed.
Faymann also said the army would focus on providing humanitarian help inside Austria.
Slovakia also announced Monday its renewed checks on its border with Hungary and Austria, and Poland’s Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said it would restore its own border controls if it saw any outside threats.
Finland says it will increase monitoring at its borders as hundreds of asylum seekers flood in daily from Sweden. It’s also opening reception centers for migrants in northern Finland, especially along the border.
About 1,700 asylum seekers arrived in Finland last week, many by train through Sweden to a border crossing where there are …Read More