Hungarian PM asks EU to support migrants

Tens of thousands were due to rally in European capitals Saturday in support of migrants as Hungary’s populist prime minister called for a giant aid package for countries around war-ravaged Syria to stem mass migration to Europe.

The Europe-wide “day of action” includes dozens of events across several nations with the biggest demonstration expected in London. There are also rival anti-migrant events due to take place, notably in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.

The biggest mass migration since World War II has divided Europe with Germany pushing for compulsory quotas within the Europe Union but eastern European nations snubbing the proposal.

Migrants and refugees are directed by police as they make their way to the platform to board trains at the Keleti Station, in the Hungarian capital Budapest. Some 2,000 refugees are waiting at the station for their trains to continue their trip ahead Austria and Germany. AFP

Pressing his Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovakian counterparts at a meeting in Prague, Germany’s foreign minister on Friday warned the influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants could be “the biggest challenge for the EU in its history”.

“If we are united in describing the situation as such, we should be united that such a challenge is not manageable for a single country,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, calling for “European solidarity”.

The International Organization for Migration said over 430,000 migrants and refugees had crossed the Mediterranean to Europe so far in 2015, with 2,748 dying or going missing en route.

Germany has taken the lion’s share, admitting 450,000 refugees so far this year, most of them fleeing violence in the Middle East—particularly Syria—and Asia.

But Steinmeier’s appeal for EU members to accept proposals to share around 160,000 migrants fell on deaf ears among eastern nations.

Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak said he wanted a solution “that is not imposed” but “made jointly”. “Migrants don’t want to stay in Slovakia,” he added bluntly.

Denmark’s right-wing government also said it would not take part in the quota scheme.

‘Not fleeing danger’

With criticism growing of Hungary’s treatment of thousands of people passing through on their way to northern Europe, premier Viktor Orban said he wanted 3.0 billion euros ($3.4 billion) handed to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, the first ports of call for Syrians trying to escape conflict.

“If it takes more money, we will increase aid until the refugee flows are drying up,” Orban told Germany’s Bild newspaper.

“These migrants do not come from war zones but from camps (in these border countries), where they were safe.

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