News / Europe

    IOM: 350,000 Migrants Have Fled to Europe This Year

    Migrants leave the main Eastern Railway station in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 1, 2015.
    Migrants leave the main Eastern Railway station in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 1, 2015.
    VOA News

    The International Organization for Migration said Tuesday that more than 350,000 migrants have made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean this year, fleeing turmoil and poverty in the Mideast and Africa in search of a better life in Europe.

    The intergovernmental agency said more than 234,000 of them landed on the shores of Greece, with another 114,000 migrants arriving in Italy, and much smaller numbers in Spain and Malta. About 2,600 have died, often drowning when rickety, overcrowded boats operated by human traffickers have sunk.

    The latest figures came as Europe continued to cope with one of its biggest stream of migrants since World War II.

    A spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency, Babar Baloch, told VOA, "All the countries have their own responsibility to deal with this crisis." Several countries, however, are seeking to block the influx, or limit it.

    Migrants face Hungarian police in the main Eastern Railway station in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 1, 2015.
    Migrants face Hungarian police in the main Eastern Railway station in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 1, 2015.

    Seeking asylum

    In Hungary, authorities shut down and then reopened Budapest's main train station. But hundreds of migrants, mostly from conflict-ridden areas of the Middle East, were left stranded outside, with many of them pleading with authorities to let them board trains headed to Austria and Germany.

    Hungary is one of the main migrant entry points to the European Union, with more than 156,000 arriving this year.

    Budapest is erecting a lengthy border fence on its southern border with Serbia, however, to keep more of them out. Defense Minister Csaba Hende told lawmakers that 3,500 soldiers could be sent to the border to cope with the migrant crisis, but deadly force would not be authorized.

    Hundreds of police escorted the migrants out of Budapest's Eastern Railway station and blocked their reentry, after an announcement over the loudspeakers ordered all passengers to evacuate.

    There were no reports of clashes, unlike earlier in the day, when hundreds tried to board a Vienna-bound train but were blocked by police.

    After being pushed out, the migrants congregated outside the station, where they have set up makeshift camps. Some chanted "Freedom! Freedom!" or "Germany! Germany!" — the preferred destination for many.

    Austrian authorities say a total of 3,650 migrants arrived in Vienna on Monday. It was the biggest daily total this year and the latest in a staggering wave of people seeking asylum in the European Union.

    When asked why officials had closed the station and stopped the flow of migrants, a Hungarian government spokesman said officials are trying to adhere to EU law.

    Under EU rules, migrants must seek asylum in the first country they enter. That means Hungary is technically prevented from allowing the migrants from passing on to Austria and Germany.

    The inconsistent application of the rules has left many of the migrants in limbo, since many have neither the necessary documents nor the money to purchase train tickets.

    On Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on European countries to quickly come up with a joint asylum policy, which she said would include setting up migrant registration centers at crucial transit points.

    "We agree that the EU Commission should define safe countries of origin and that registration centers be set up in Italy and Greece as part of an EU joint effort,"  the German leader said at a joint news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

    While acknowledging that war refugees and others with a "persecuted background" must be "allocated in Europe," Merkel stressed that those coming for economic reasons must be sent back to their countries.

    Germany has accepted more refugees than any other European country, a total that could reach 800,000 by the end of the year.

    Migrants wave their train tickets outside the main Eastern Railway station in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 1, 2015.
    Migrants wave their train tickets outside the main Eastern Railway station in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 1, 2015.

    EU disagreement

    Rajoy said Spain is open to the idea of spreading the arriving migrants throughout the 28-nation EU, but made no commitment to accepting more in Spain beyond the 2,700 it already has pledged to take.

    Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland are among countries that have blocked a plan for European Union member states to accept specific numbers of refugees.

    Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico said his country "will never agree" to a quota on the number of refugees it will accept. He said most of the migrants heading to Europe from war-wracked countries in the Middle East and Africa are making the dangerous journey to Europe for economic reasons and should be returned to their homelands.

    French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Sunday accused eastern European states, particularly Hungary, of "scandalous" policies toward migrants that go against European Union values. Budapest is building a four-meter fence along its southern border with Serbia to keep migrants from crossing into Hungary.

    Hungary's state secretary, Levente Magyar, told the national news agency the government rejected all "mean adjectives and accusations" made by Fabius.

    The head of the International Organization for Migration, General William Lacy Swing, said aid groups like his are willing to help European governments deal with the influx of migrants, but that some parts of Europe needed to overcome the "fear factor" about accepting the refugees.

    The 28-member EU plans to hold emergency talks on the migrant issue on September 14.

    Migrants wave their train tickets and lift up children outside the main Eastern Railway station in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 1, 2015.
    Migrants wave their train tickets and lift up children outside the main Eastern Railway station in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 1, 2015.

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    Comment Sorting
    by: American Eskimo from: San Jose, USA
    September 02, 2015 12:08 AM
    I pity the poor immigrants who have no where to go.
    They are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters just like us, only we are fortunate to have a home and a county with food to feed our families and clothes to keep them warm.
    God bless them to be accepted by a county.
    In Response

    by: Gokmen from: İstanbul
    September 04, 2015 3:20 AM
    Hey Eskimo! That' s a good comment.

    by: Hafiz from: Syria
    September 01, 2015 4:12 PM
    This mess is a result of Turkey supporting ISIS.

    Turkey created this chaos in Syria and Iraq.

    Turkey = ISIS
    In Response

    by: Gokmen from: İstanbul
    September 04, 2015 2:49 AM
    I assume it is a cliche to blame Turkey for every bad things. Everything was perfect in Iraq and Syria, but Turkey spoiled it.

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    September 01, 2015 9:39 AM
    Interesting comparison. During the period when America grew from a collection of towns, villages, and farms to the greatest military, industrial, financial, and cultural power in human history it welcomed and integrated tens of millions of migrants, mostly from Europe who fled to avoid persecution and poverty. Now migrants are fleeing persecution and poverty mostly from the Mideast and Africa but Europe is rejecting them, doesn't integrate them, doesn't want them. This despite aging populations in their tired old continent. And they think they can compete with America while on both sides of the Atlantic politicians tell us how much alike we are and that we share common values and interests. What poppycock.

    One thing President Obama got right in 2008 during his presidential campaign. He said Europe had a ticking demographic time bomb. Anyone remember that? Looks like the clock has counted down to zero and it is exploding right now.
    In Response

    by: annymous from: usa
    September 01, 2015 5:39 PM
    Europe especially England And France have accepted many people from Pakistan and middle east. these people have created a problem to the west and they have animosity to the west . so the best way is to direct them to Israel
    In Response

    by: XX from: Canada
    September 01, 2015 5:04 PM
    Don't forget that the millions of immigrants in the US -Mexicans et al-are of Christian background. Here what you have in Europe is a muslim invasion of economic migrants. Canada has accepted the oppressed minorities of Christians. As Robert Fico, the Slovakia Prime Minister, said 'Who bombed those countries?'

    by: meanbill from: USA
    September 01, 2015 7:24 AM
    The only solution for some NATO countries to combat the refugee migrant problem seems to be building fences with razor wire to keep them out, without any of the NATO countries willing to wage war and defeat the terrorists that are forcing the refugee migrants to flee to a NATO protected Europe for safety? .. Instead of combating the problem, the Europeans want to defend themselves from the refugee migrants, and ignore the terrorists that are creating both their problems?

    The terrorists took the millions of refugee migrants homes and country, and some country or countries must find the courage to take it back from them, so the millions of refugee migrants can return to their homes and country? They have the courage to bomb defenseless 3rd world countries and kill terrorists from the air, [but], they don't have the courage to fight the terrorist in ground warfare? .. pitiful, isn't it?
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    September 01, 2015 8:37 PM
    Hey Raymond Lee, The US ignorantly and stupidly armed and trained the tens of thousands of foreign Sunni Muslim extremist and fanatic fighters in Turkey and Jordan to wage war on Assad and Syria, [BUT], almost all of them joined al-Baghdadi in his ISIL Caliphate army in 2013, [AND THEN], in 2014 al-Baghdadi led his ISIL army in an invasion of Iraq, and the rest is history?

    Did anybody wonder where al-Baghdadi got his ISIL army in 2014, [he got those US armed and trained men], because he had no money or country, [but], al-Baghdadi had his ISIL caliphate and gave them a cause and reason to fight and die for? .. [In a way, the US provided the manpower for the ISIL army and Caliphate?] .. and it should be their responsibility to rid the world of them? .. And they should take the refugee migrants because they caused them to be refugee migrants? .. REALLY
    In Response

    by: Raymond Lee from: England
    September 01, 2015 3:43 PM
    You are only partially correct meanbill: when is the US going to take-in some significant numbers of these refugees and illegal migrants?
    The US and RAF are bombing...So, what's the solution?

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