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Thousands arrive in Austria and Germany

September 5, 2015

Some 6,500 refugees have reached Austria, 2,200 of whom are already on their way to Germany. As numbers continue to rise, the UN has praised the two countries for their efforts so far.

Refugees at Munich train station, Germany
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/N. Armer

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said on Saturday that thousands of refugees had crossed into Austria after neighboring Hungary began transporting them to the border overnight by bus.

Hungary announced earlier on Saturday morning, however, that its overnight bus service had finished and would not be repeated. Train services from Budapest to Western Europe also remained at a standstill.

Scenes similar to Friday afternoon ensued, with around 200 newly arrived refugees leaving an open-door camp near the Hungarian city of Gyor, and another 300 leaving Budapest's central Keleti station - all of them hoping to make their way to Austria by foot.

'Strength to do what is necessary'

Saturday's first train carrying 167 refugees from Austria to Germany has arrived in the southern city of Munich. Shortly before the refugees' arrival, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was no legal limit on the number of asylum seekers that Germany can take in.

In an interview with German newspaper group "Funke," Merkel said that "as a strong, economically healthy country, we have the strength to do what is necessary."

The Chancellor reiterated, however, that migrants who stand no real chance of been granted asylum will be returned to their country of origin. This measure applies in particular to migrants traveling from western Balkan countries, such as Serbia and Macedonia, which are regarded as "safe."

Similarly, the head of the Federal Agency of Migration and Refugees, Manfred Schmidt, told German magazine "Der Spiegel" that of more than 75,000 asylum requests filed by migrants from western Balkan countries by the end of 2015, almost all of them would be rejected.

UN praises Austria and Germany

German rail company Deutsche Bahn announced on Saturday that it would be adding extra carriages to its trains to cope with the refugee crisis.

"Deutsche Bahn is doing everything it can to make sure that arriving refugees get to existing intake centers as soon as possible," said a company spokesman, adding that more staff had also been called in to assist with the extra passengers.

The United Nations (UN) praised Austria and Germany for their efforts to provide for the thousands of refugees, most of whom have traveled from Syria.

"This is political leadership based on humanitarian values," the agency said.

Amid the international praise for Germany's welcoming attitude in recent weeks, one man was reportedly arrested in Berlin on Saturday, however, for allegedly celebrating the death of a 3-year-old Syrian refugee on Facebook. Pictures of the toddler circulated around the world earlier this week after he was photographed, washed up on a Turkish beach.

The man has since been released from custody.

ksb/se (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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