Numbers of Migrants spike in Hungary, Austria

migrantEU member Hungary recorded on Thursday a new record number of migrants entering the country with 3,321 refugees crossing the border from Serbia in the past 24 hours, police said.

Neighbouring Austria meanwhile witnessed a new spike in numbers crossing from Hungary, with more than 3,000 people entering overnight.

The majority entering Hungary crossed the border near the flashpoint village of Roszke, the scene of a number of scuffles between police and migrants in recent days.

The UN’s refugee agency on Tuesday warned that at least 42,000 migrants were expected to enter Hungary by next week, as they travel up from Greece via Macedonia and Serbia.

Most are from Syria, Afghanistan or Pakistan and want to continue their journey to Germany, where the government recently eased asylum restrictions for Syrians.

Between midnight (2200 GMT) and 3:00 am alone, more than 1,700 people crossed the border at Nickelsdorf in eastern Austria, police said.

Early on Thursday morning, there were around 2,800 people at Nickelsdorf, receiving food, temporary shelter and waiting for special buses and trains to take them to Vienna and beyond.

The situation was however calm and people were exhausted but “very happy to be in Austria,” said Christian Knopf, in charge of coordination.

At the weekend, Austria allowed some 15,000 to enter the country freely to help relieve a near-explosive situation in Hungary where 50,000 migrants arrived in August alone.

Chancellor Werner Faymann has said that border controls will return to normal but this has not yet happened. A government coordination meeting on Thursday was to discuss the next steps.

Austrian police said that those arriving had generally crossed into Hungary from Serbia less than 24 hours before, many taking trains to Budapest and then changing onto other trains to Hegyeshalom near the Austrian border.

Volunteers at the border said they are bracing for a renewed spike in numbers in the coming days as many migrants rush to enter Hungary before tough new laws there outlawing crossing the border come into force on September 15.

Hungary in late August completed a razor-wire barrier along its 175-kilometre (110-mile) border with Serbia which is however not proving to be much of a hindrance.

It is however also building a fence four metres (12 feet) high that it aims to complete by the end of October or early November, and the government wants to start deploying the army.

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