07. September 2015 · Kommentare deaktiviert für „‚Money, now‘: people smugglers conduct brisk business in Hungary“ · Kategorien: Balkanroute, Serbien, Ungarn · Tags: ,

Quelle: The Guardian

Syrian refugees attempting to reach Germany find willing opportunists in Röszke looking to profit from catastrophe

Wheezing on his crutches, 14-year-old Hassan Hassanein heaves himself into a petrol station that lies a few minutes from Hungary’s southern border with Serbia. Over by the cashier’s office, five men sit around a wooden picnic table. These are the men that the teenager and his family have come to see.

They approach the table. “Budapest? Four persons?” asks Hassanein’s brother. “How much?”

The people smuggler with the most hair responds. “€1200,” he says, mouth full of salami bap. “For the whole car.”

Would €900 work? No, but he’ll settle for €1000 – and a deal is struck. The four Syrians hurry into the car, a black hatchback. Their injured brother sits in the front seat. Then a fifth and youngest sibling sprints in from the road, crowding the backseat with four passengers.

“Money,” says the smuggler, still holding his bap. “Now.” They hand over their cash, and the Toyota races out of the car park. Another family walks into the office through the other exit. Around the corner, another family is waiting.

Even as Germany and Austria have moved in recent days to streamline the movement of refugees from Hungary towards western Europe, people smugglers have found brisk business in helping desperate refugees circumnavigate a European asylum system that seems as weighted against them as ever. Though Germany has promised to take in any Syrian, regardless of whether they have previously registered in other EU countries such as Hungary, those who can afford it still prefer to avoid any kind of contact with the harsh and unpredictable Hungarian reception system.

Germany made good on its promise over the weekend when smiling officials and volunteers greeted a few thousand refugees who arrived at Munich station after a nightmarish limbo in Hungary. But anyone who dreams that Germany’s warmth provides more than a sticking plaster to Europe’s migration crisis should have seen the scene half a mile south of the petrol station on Sunday. Just as several thousand Syrians left Hungary’s north-west border, a similar number were crossing over its southern one. Still people are fleeing for their lives, and they are likely to continue to do so in high numbers until early October, when the waters between Turkey and Greece become too dangerous to cross.

“We just want to find a country where we can live in dignity and safety,” Mohamed Hassanein, Hassan’s father, had explained earlier in the day as he waited for his injured son to catch up. Hassan’s injury is an example of what his father is trying to escape from: his leg was broken in Yarmouk, the Damascus suburb that has fallen victim to both Islamic State and the Syrian regime. “But there’s no state that will help us. Egypt won’t help us. France won’t help us. Britain won’t help us. And why won’t the Gulf countries help?”

After crossing Greece, Macedonia and Serbia, the Hassaneins are among thousands now re-entering the EU through a disused railway line that leads into Hungary, and which the Hungarian government has for some reason failed to block. Despite building a razor-wire fence along the rest of the border, and making it clear that refugees have no place in Hungary, Hungarian officials allowed over 2,000 to walk in broad daylight on Sunday along these train tracks and into the country. Police did not attempt to stop them.

There are pregnant women, and women carrying babies. There are families of seven, with little toddlers picking their way along the wooden sleepers. And there is a boy wheezing on his crutches. It is a wave of humanity that, despite its best intentions, not even the xenophobic Hungarian government can repel. Its razor-wire fence is lined with the footprints of a people who will not be overcome. Parts have already been squashed by refugees desperate to enter. Other bits have been smothered with sleeping bags and clothes, to blunt its spikes.

“Oh they come from everywhere,” admits a Hungarian border-guard. “Here, there, and over there,” she adds, pointing to a nearby spot where the fence lies particularly low. The Guardian later crosses it in under 30 seconds

Mohamed Ali, a Syrian who crossed into Hungary on Sunday, scoffs at the likelihood of the fence deterring refugees who have survived both Isis and forces loyal to Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. “It won’t stop people,” says Ali, a law graduate whose five children have made this epic voyage with him. “All these people are not afraid of Hungary or anything. They just want freedom.” Ali’s a case in point: he had never left Syria before the war started. The fact he finally left a fortnight ago highlights how bad the situation has become.

For all its nationalist rhetoric, the behaviour of its policemen on Sunday suggested that the Hungarian government recognises the futility, for the time being, of trying to fight Europe’s largest wave of mass migration since the second world war. As they crossed along the railway line at Röszke, policemen simply smiled. “Is this Hungary?” asked one Syrian. “Yes it is,” said an officer, and waved him on.

Police were making half-hearted attempts to round up people within the wider area, and corral them into a field, before driving them to a camp to be registered. But the camp is already full, and police said that they did not have the manpower to put their government’s rhetoric into action. “We’re just two people,” said one of the two policemen handing out water in the field. “And this is a catastrophic situation.”

For critics of the Hungarian approach, it was a heartening scene – proof that Hungary’s attempt to avoid the refugee crisis, rather than accept it as an inevitability, had failed. But watching the steady flow of people at the border, the UN refugee agency’s local head warned that worse may be yet to come. On 15 September, said Erno Simon, new laws will come into place that will criminalise the act of crossing the border, and of damaging the fence. A taller, spikier fence will also be finished in the autumn. “At the moment the situation is beyond their capabilities,” said Simon. “But I don’t know what will be the result when the second line of fence is there.”

Yet even if it does repel refugees from Hungary, people are likely to simply try to go via Romania or Croatia, reckoned a nearby British volunteer. “These guys are very intelligent and educated,” said Mark Wade, who’d driven from Romania to hand out water near the border. “They’ve walked a thousand miles. A few more isn’t going to stop them.”

Young Hassan Hassanein, now on his way to Budapest having hobbled into Hungary on his crutches, proved Wade’s point.

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