Drowned migrant boys buried as Hungary warns of ‘mass inflow’ of refugees
KOBANI, SYRIA/BUDAPEST – A Syrian father on Friday buried his wife and two little boys, drowned as they tried to flee to Europe, while Hungary’s right-wing leader told Europeans they risk becoming a minority on their own continent.
With desperation and anger deepening among migrants escaping conflict and poverty, hundreds broke out of a Hungarian camp and others set off on foot from Budapest, hoping to find sanctuary in northern Europe.
In neighbouring Austria, police said the driver of a lorry found abandoned last week with the bodies of 71 migrants in the back was among a group of people arrested in Hungary.
Dozens more narrowly avoided death by using a crowbar to escape from another lorry owned by the same Bulgarian man, they said.
More than 300,000 people have crossed to Europe by sea so far this year and more than 2,600 have died doing so. Many of those making the voyage are refugees from the civil war in Syria, now in its fifth year.
In the latest report of deaths at sea, about 30-40 people drowned in the Mediterranean off the coast of Libya after a dinghy carrying 120-140 Somalis, Sudanese and Nigerians deflated, causing panic on board, the International Organization for Migration reported.
In the Syrian town of Kobani, 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi was laid to rest alongside his mother and 5-year-old brother at the “Martyr’s Cemetery” in the predominantly Kurdish community near the Turkish border.
Images of the tiny body of Aylan washed up on a beach near the Turkish resort of Bodrum gave a human face to the high death toll and prompted a global outpouring of sympathy this week. He drowned with his brother Galip, his mother and at least nine others while trying to cross in two small boats to the Greek island of Kos just a few kilometres away.
AIR FOR ONLY 90 MINUTES
Hungary has become a major flashpoint of the crisis, as the main entry point for migrants who reach the EU overland across the Balkan peninsula, bound for richer countries further north and west, particularly Germany.
In Austria, police said the 71 dead migrants found alongside a motorway near the Hungarian border last week were Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan nationals, but not a single one of them had been identified. They included a baby girl, her brother, two other children and eight women.
There was enough air inside the lorry for no more than 90 minutes and the people appeared to have slowly lost consciousness, suffocating before they crossed from Hungary. The driver was among five people arrested in Hungary, they added.
In southern Hungary, police gave chase as about 300 migrants fled the crowded reception centre in Roszke on the border with Serbia. Another 2,300 migrants still inside were threatening to break out too, and the MTI state news agency said dozens more had fled a second camp west of Budapest in the town of Bicske.
Hungary says it is enforcing EU rules that it must register all migrants caught crossing its borders, but thousands are refusing and demand they be allowed to continue their journey to western Europe. Germany has said it will let Syrians register for asylum regardless of where they entered the EU, causing confusion among neighbouring countries who have alternated between letting them through and stopping them.
While pressure is rising on European governments to tackle the crisis more effectively, the boys’ weeping father, Abdullah Kurdi, called on countries closer to home to act.
“I want Arab governments – not European countries – to see (what happened to) my children, and because of them to help people,” he said in footage posted online by a local radio station.
The head of the United Nations’ refugee agency, Antonio Guterres, called on Friday for the European Union to mobilise its “full force” to help the migrants. –Reuters