By William Booth,
TOVARNIK, Croatia —Refugees carved a new pathway through Europe on Wednesday, with hundreds walking through cornfields to reach welcoming Croatia even as others faced tear gas and water cannons from Hungarian police determined to turn them away.
The contrasting scenes along the Serbian border highlighted both the make-or-break resolve of the asylum seekers — many fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq — and the growing friction within Europe in the absence of a coordinated policy for the unprecedented influx.
“We hit a stone and we flow around it,” said Arazak Dubal, 28, a computer programmer from Damascus, who had been on the road for 18 days.
He and his three companions reached Belgrade only to discover on the Web app Whatsap and Facebook that the Hungarian border was closed.
“So I went to Google Maps, and here we are,” said Dubal, huffing in the hot afternoon as he slogged across the farm fields.
But about 80 miles to the northeast — along Serbia’s frontier with Hungary — the route was slammed shut.
Just steps from Hungary, thousands of people spent the night in the wet grass on the Serbian side of the border. Hours later, hundreds tried to punch through the cordon of razor wire and riot police massed near the Serbian border town of Horgos.
But they ran headlong into security forces who unleashed tear gas and pepper spray to drive them back or encircle those who made it across. Some refugees were clipped by baton swipes and crumpled to the ground in pain.
“Open the door!” some of the refugees yelled as they hurled water bottles and other debris at riot police. Nearby, some children screamed for their missing parents.
[New threat on the refugee trail: land mines]
Water cannons also sprayed crowds on the Serbian side, forcing refugees to flee back to a squalid squatters’ camp that took root just after Hungary closed the border on Tuesday.
No major injuries were reported, but some refugees were treated by Serbian authorities for respiratory problems from the tear gas and at least one migrant had a leg injury, the Associated Press reported.
“We fled wars and violence and did not expect such brutality and inhumane treatment in Europe,” said Amir Hassan, who was drenched from a water cannon and tried to wash tear gas from …Read More
Refugees face tear gas, water cannons as they cut new paths through Europe – Washington Post
By William Booth,