Hungarian police fire teargas on refugees

Hungarian police fire teargas on refugeesHungarian police have fired teargas shells and used water cannons on refugees and asylum seekers at the border crossing town of Horgos, local television reports showed Wednesday.

The refugees and asylum seekers were attempting to break through a set of fences, when the clash with Hungarian police erupted.

Stones and plastic bottles were also thrown at the police in response to their use of force.

According to Anadolu Agency, despite the decision of Hungarian authorities to close the borders, hundreds of refugees were continuing to wait at the Hungarian border with Serbia, Horgos; earlier some of them were also reported to staging a hunger strike in their desperate attempts to get their demands for a safe passage fulfilled.

Croatia route

Earlier Wednesday, refugees and asylum seekers in Serbia could be seen rerouting to Croatia in the morning a day after Hungary imposed an emergency law restricting their movements.

They began entering Croatia through local roads and farm fields after the Hungarian government adopted a new emergency law, which came into effect on Monday night; Hungarian police also sealed a railway crossing point that was one of the busiest entry points into Hungary.

Under the Hungarian legislation, those who damaged the four meter (13 foot) high fence on Hungary’s 175 kilometer (110 mile) long border with Serbia or cross it “illegally” could be imprisoned or deported.

The refugees were now expected to take the Macedonia-Serbia-Croatia-Slovenia route to pass by western Balkans instead of the Macedonia-Serbia-Hungary route.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic confirmed that more than 150 refugees had so far entered Croatia on Wednesday.

Police officers in the area said that as many as 181 refugees had entered Croatia, who were being taken to asylum centers in Sisak and Kutina cities after completing their registration formalities.

Milanovic said that Croatia was ready to accept refugees, both to grant them asylum and let them pass on to other European countries if they wished. “Building walls cannot stop anybody, which only ends up giving a dangerous and ugly message,” he said.

To Germany ‘on foot’

An asylum seeker from Afghanistan, K. S., claimed that he had been on the path to Germany for the past two years with his wife and three children.

“I decided to go to Germany after the Taliban threatened to kill my whole family,” he said.

He added that he now planned to take his family on foot to his hopeful destination in western Europe. “I lost all my money in Greece and now I have no money, which is why we will continue on foot. I do not know where we are going but everyone is going this way, so we will just follow them,” he said.

Authorities also designated a former children’s hospital in Serbia near the Croatian border as an asylum center, which could accommodate up to 200 people. Tents were also being prepared for the refugees, manager of the center, Radomir Milosevic, said.

 Austria launches border controls

Also on Wednesday, Austria said it too launched controls on its borders with EU member states, including Hungary, Italy, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The move came following Germany’s Sunday’s decision to launch controls along the border with Austria.

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told the state-owned ORF television that controls on the border, which must be “seen as an important signal to the world”, began Wednesday.

Austria is pushing for a system that stipulates fair distribution of refugees among all EU states, a move opposed by mostly eastern European countries, including Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland.

The measure, during which cars and people crossing the border will pass through border control measures, is expected to last at least 10 days.

Austrian State Railway authority said that trains going from Salzburg to Munich in Germany had been cancelled due to the controls.

Austrian media reported that a total of 15,000 refugees and asylum seekers crossed the border from Hungary to Austria on Monday.

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