Denmark shuts rail link as Europe wrangles over refugees

September 10, 2015 3:58 pm

 

Danish
police guards a train with migrants, mainly from Syria and Iraq, at
Rodby railway station, southern . Photo / Getty Images

Denmark became the latest flashpoint Thursday in ’s migrant
crisis, with the continent bitterly spit over how to cope with the vast
numbers of refugees pouring across its borders.
German generosity
has sparked an angry backlash from its eastern neighbours, as another
3,000 migrants crossed the Austrian border from Hungary during the
night, and more landed on Greece’s overwhelmed Aegean islands and
trudged into Macedonia.
Scandinavia’s busiest ferry crossing to
Germany remained shut to trains after a sudden surge of migrants trying
to reach Sweden on Wednesday led Denmark to suspend cross-border trains
and close a motorway for several hours.
Germany is pushing hard
for the EU go further than a new plan to accept 160,000 refugees fleeing
war in Syria and Iraq as it revealed Thursday that it had already taken
in 450,000 since January.

Instead Berlin wants compulsory long-term EU quotas with no limits on numbers.
But
binding quotas are already facing fierce resistence, with hardline
Hungary ready to send troops to its border and Slovakian Prime Minister
Robert Fico warning Wednesday his country would not bow to Berlin.
“I
don’t want to wake up one day and have 50,000 people here about whom we
know nothing,” he said as European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker
urged the continent to look to its history and ignore populist
scaremongering.
“Now is not the time to take fright, it is time
for bold, determined action for the European Union,” he told the
European Parliament as he unveiled the quota plan on Wednesday.
With
Europe strained and divided by the biggest refugee crisis it has faced
since World War II, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was
considering resettling more Syrian refugees.
“We are looking hard at the number that we can specifically manage with respect to the crisis in Syria and Europe.”
– Stuck in no-man’s land –
Denmark’s
train operator said Thursday its rail services across the German border
would resume after they were shut by a standoff between around 350
migrants and police that also closed the main motorway between the two
countries for a time on Wednesday.
But the ferry crossing at Rodby — one of the busiest in Scandinavia — would remain closed to trains, the authorities said.
The
move came a day after hundreds of migrants refused to disembark from
services arriving from Germany and register in Denmark, demanding
instead to continue to Sweden, which has a more welcoming asylum policy.
Around 100 later agreed to remain in Denmark while the rest were
allowed to leave.
On Hungary’s tense border with Serbia, scores
of families were stuck in no-man’s a day after 400 desperate migrants
broke through police lines at the flashpoint town of Roszke yelling “No
camp!” as they scattered in all directions.
And on the Greek
island of Lesbos, where up to 20,000 were stranded earlier in the week,
more migrants landed on the beaches on rickety boats from Turkey,
shouting with joying and kissing the sand as they arrived on dry land.
– ‘Is this the EU?’ –
“Is this the European Union?” one passenger asks anxiously as he landed on Skala Sikamineas beach.
“As
soon as I put my feet down I stopped feeling tired,” said Feras Tahan, a
34-year-old Syrian graphic designer, unaware he was facing a
50-kilometre (30-mile) walk in the heat across the island to be
processed by the authorities.
The migrants’ plight has touched
hearts around the world, spurred especially by pictures last week of
three-year-old Syrian Aylan Kurdi, whose lifeless body washed up on a
Turkish beach.
“The wave of migration is not a one-time incident
but the beginning of a real exodus, which means that we will have to
deal with this problem for many years to come,” EU President Donald Tusk
warned on Tuesday.
As the international community grappled for a
solution to the crisis, Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg proposed
hosting a donors’ conference to help the millions of Syrians displaced
by war.
The EU quota plans must be approved by a majority of EU
states, and Berlin said it was open to a special EU refugee summit ahead
of the next scheduled EU summit on October 14.
Juncker’s
proposals also include a possible revision of the EU’s Dublin Treaty,
under which asylum claims must be processed by the first country that
refugees arrive in, and he also urged for them to be allowed to work
while their claims are dealt with.

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