BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hundreds of migrants chanted defiant slogans outside Budapest’s main international railway station Wednesday as Hungarian police blocked them for a second day from seeking asylum in Germany and other European Union countries to the west.
“What we want? Peace! What we need? Peace!” a few hundred migrants chanted outside Keleti station, the new focal point for continent-wide tensions over the unrelenting flow of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa fleeing war, persecution and poverty.
Hungary’s police said in a statement they intend to reinforce their positions outside the Keleti terminal as the volume of migrants arriving from Serbia continues to grow by the hour, with an estimated 3,000 already encamped near the station. They said officers working jointly with colleagues from Austria, Germany and Slovakia also were searching for migrants traveling illegally on other Hungarian trains and described the security push as compatible with the EU’s policy of passport-free travel.
Efforts to control, curtail and protect migrants continued unabated elsewhere across Europe. French authorities said services on the cross-Channel Eurostar trains were returning to normal Wednesday after serious overnight disruptions triggered by reports of migrants running on the tracks and trying to climb atop trains.
Passengers aboard one Paris-to-London train said their service was suspended because migrants trying to climb aboard the train damaged fire safety equipment. In tweets, passengers also described seeing migrants running along the roofs of another train near the migrant-besieged French port of Calais.
Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, is scheduled to meet EU chiefs Thursday to discuss his country’s handling of its unprecedented flow this year of more than 150,000 migrants, chiefly from Syria and other conflict zones. While Germany says it expects to receive 800,000 migrants this year, quadruple last year’s figure, many EU members face criticism for failing to commit to housing more asylum seekers.
In non-EU member Iceland, a populist movement is challenging the government’s pledge to host just 50 Syrians. The newly launched “Syria’s Calling” pressure group said thousands of island residents had gone online over the past 48 hours to commit to opening their homes to a war refugee. Others called on Iceland to open a disused army base for migrant housing.
Naval vessels from several nations continued to patrol Mediterranean waters off the coast of Libya in hopes of preventing more mass drownings of migrants. A Norwegian vessel said it was carrying about 800 rescued migrants, including 11 pregnant women and more than 30 children, to Cagliari on Italy’s island of Sardinia.
Turkish media report said at least 11 migrants died and five others are missing after boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized.
The private Dogan news agency says a boat carrying 16 people sank in international waters after leaving from the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday. Seven aboard drowned while four were rescued. Hours later, a second boat carrying six migrants sank off the coast of Bodrum, and a woman and three children drowned, the agency said.
Greece’s coast guard says an overnight search operation involving at least two ships and a helicopter ended happily when three people missing at sea were picked up by a fishing vessel.
Associated Press reporters Pablo Gorondi and Bela Szandelszky in Budapest, Suzan Fraser in Ankara and Elena Becatoros in Athens contributed to this report.