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Refugees allowed into Austria

September 5, 2015

Refugees on government-supplied buses from Budapest have started to arrive at Red Cross reception centers at the Austrian border. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have proposed a rail corridor to Germany.

Flüchtlige nach ihrer Ankunft in Österreich
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Austria's Red Cross said it expected between 800 to 1,500 people to arrive in its refugee reception center of Nickelsdorf at the Hungarian border in the early hours of Saturday.

Late Friday, the Hungarian government announced it was sending a fleet of a hundred buses to take migrants still at Budapest's Keleti railway terminal and those walking from Budapest on a highway toward the Austrian border.

"We are taking this step so Hungary's transportation is not paralyzed during the next 24 hours," said Janos Lazar, chief of staff for Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Lazar said the migrants would be taken to Hegyeshalom, Hungary's main border crossing with Austria. The offer of bus transport from the government did not apply to people who were in migrant camps in Hungary, Lazar said.

"They told us that the buses are going to the Austria border," said Ahmed, from Afghanistan. "I really don't know if this is true or false. If it is true, it is great... If it is true, it is victory. Maybe we can find a way now."

After speaking with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann announced early Saturday that both Austria and Germany would grant unhindered entry to the migrants being brought in by bus.

A statement from Faymann's office said the move was prompted by the "present emergency situation on the Hungarian border."

Czech-Slovak rail link

Also on Friday, the Czech Republic and Slovakia proposed creating a rail corridor for Syrian refugees linking Hungary and Germany.

"If there is some public pledge from Germany that it will accept and not return Syrian refugees who are registered in some European country, we are ready to open a corridor if there is an agreement between Hungary and Germany," Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec told reporters in Prague after meeting his Slovak counterpart, Robert Kalinak.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary were ready to increase their commitment in aiding countries facing the largest number of migrant entries across their borders.

But at a meeting on Friday, the four countries repeated their opposition to any EU plans for mandatory migrant quotas for member states.

Germany has said it will allow refugees from Syria to register for asylum regardless of where they enter the European Union.

jm/cmk (Reuters, AFP, AP)