BUDAPEST — With the threat of heightened border enforcement over the next few days, protestors flocked to streets throughout Europe on Saturday to show support for thousands of migrants fleeing war-torn countries in the Middle East.
Thousands joined a protest in central London, some with signs that said “Reject the Politics of Fear,” the Guardian reported. And hundreds also came for a solidarity concert in Budapest, at a train station where many migrants go though on the way to Germany.
In recent days, several countries in Europe have hardened their stances on allowing migrants to pass through their borders openly. The discord has been so great that the European Union has pushed back a vote on a resettlement plan to distribute refugees throughout the coalition’s 22 countries until the beginning of next month.
In the meantime, Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, has suggested a solution: Have the E.U. give $3.4 billion to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to help improve services for refugees who are placed in camps in those areas. In an interview released Saturday in Germany’s Bild newspaper, Orban said, “These people do not come to Europe because they are looking for security, but they want a better life than in the camps.
“If Europe allows a competition of cultures, then the Christians will lose,” Orban continued. “These are the facts. The only way out for those who want to preserve Europe as a Christian culture is not always more Muslims let in!”
Foreign ministers from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary issued a joint statement Friday calling for the E.U. to create a “more balanced distribution of finances” and to play a greater role “contributing to the international efforts in resolving the ongoing crisis in Syria and Iraq.”
Meanwhile, rights groups and others stepped up pressure for improvements at various bottlenecks where conditions are “inhumane,” including a center in southern Hungary where video appeared to show penned migrants scrambling for food thrown by security personnel.
The volume of migrants crossing the border into Hungary — thousands per day — has led to overcrowded camps and train stations. More than 8,000 people were expected to cross into Austria on Friday, although train service from Budapest, the Hungarian capital, was suspended because of crowding. A regional governor told television stations in Greece that 20,000 migrants had been processed on the island of Lesbos.
The U.N. refugee agency was planning to send enough supplies for 95,000 people in the region, an official said, including prefabricated housing units to temporarily shelter 300 families.