Thousands of refugees and migrants streamed into Germany on Sunday, many traveling through Austria from Hungary where they had been stranded against their will for days, while European Union governments argue over how to respond.
A convoy of around 140 cars and vans filled with food and water left Vienna to collect exhausted migrants, many from Syria, who had set out to walk the 110-mile stretch through the rain from Hungary’s capital Budapest to the Austrian border, from where many would continue onto Germany.
Onlookers clapped and chanted: “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” as volunteers loaded their vehicles with food, water and soft toys.
However, the EU is deeply divided over how to cope with the influx of people from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, making the 28-nation bloc look ineffective and heartless as member states blame each other, fueling political populism and anti-Muslim sentiment.
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Germany has said it expects 800,000 refugees and migrants this year and urged other EU members to open their doors. But others say the focus should be on tackling the violence in the Middle East that has caused them to flee their homes.
“When rich Europe argues and tears itself apart over whether to accept 1000, 10,000, 42,000 or 100,000 refugees, when Turkey already has 2 million, it is clear that we have a problem of perspective and identity,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
“This crisis can help us come out with a stronger vision of what it means to be the European Union.”
Austria and Germany have thrown open their borders to the wave of refugees making their way north and west from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. Hungary has been letting the human tide move on after holding it up for days.
People welcome refugees with a banner reading ‘welcome to Germany’ in Dortmund, Germany, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015, where thousands of migrants and refugees arrived by trains. Martin Meissner / AP
Migrants and refugees who were still in Serbia over the weekend rushed to cross into Hungary after hearing that Germany and Austria would accept people coming from the nation.
After relatively easy travels through Greece and Macedonia into Serbia, traversing Hungary was rattling the nerves of many refugees.
Many told NBC News they had heard they would face prison if caught by …Read More