Migrants reach Austria and Germany after long ordeal

After being welcomed at the Austrian frontier by volunteers, many went directly to Vienna and on to Munich in southern Germany.

The plight of the migrants has highlighted the EU’s struggle to deal with a surge of asylum seekers

Earlier this week there were chaotic scenes in Budapest as Hungary blocked them from travelling onwards.

Many migrants refused to be taken to camps in Hungary to register for asylum, insisting they wanted to travel on to Germany and Austria.

Crowds broke through security lines and began walking 175km (108 miles) to the border, many with small children.

Under mounting pressure, Hungary opened its border with Austria, which expects to have received some 10,000 people by the end of Saturday.

Austria has said it will not limit the number of migrants crossing its borders, with an interior ministry spokesperson telling the BBC on Saturday that that the nation was dealing with an influx of people from “crisis regions” who were “desperate”.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany can cope with an influx of newcomers, without raising taxes or jeopardising its budget.

But Germany and Hungary say the decision to open borders for the asylum seekers was an exceptional case – for humanitarian reasons – and the “Dublin rules” that require people to apply for asylum in the first EU country they reach will continue to operate.

Meanwhile, Hungary laid on trains bound for Austria for hundreds more migrants who set off on foot towards there from Budapest’s main railway station on Saturday.

The last train from the Austrian border town of Nickelsdorf going to Vienna has departed, but more will be put on Sunday.

In Greece, another key entry point, a baby died after his family landed on the island of Agathonisi, while migrants clashed with riot police on another island, Lesbos.

There is little sign of a co-ordinated EU response to the crisis, despite more than 350,000 migrants having crossed the EU’s borders in 2015 alone.

Europe’s migrant crisis is “here to stay” and nations must act together to deal with it effectively, the EU’s foreign policy chief said after “difficult” talks with foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

“In three months time, it will be other member states under the focus, and in six months, it could be others again,” Federica Mogherini said.

Germany, backed by the European Commission, has been pushing for a quota system for dividing the people reaching Europe between member states. But this has been opposed by several eastern members.

On Saturday, Hungary said that while it had temporarily relaxed restrictions on the transit of asylum seekers, it was pressing ahead with plans to tighten border controls and could send troops to its southern frontier if parliament agreed.

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