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Sziget Festival-Goers Urged to Help Syrian, Iraqi Refugees
Art And Culture

Sziget Festival-Goers Urged to Help Syrian, Iraqi Refugees

Festival-goers in Hungary have been encouraged to show solidarity to refugees entering the country - by donating their tents and sleeping bags.

Organizers of the Sziget festival which ended at the weekend launched their “camp aid for refugees’ campaign knowing that tourists – many from all over Europe – often leave tents behind.

It’s a poignant call in a country whose government has been taking an ever harder line, polarizing opinion in the country, euronews.com reported.

A fence is being built to keep migrants out, asylum laws have been tightened to allow swift deportation, and Budapest has been defying EU rules by refusing to take back people from other countries.

Most are said to have fled conflict and unrest in Syria and Iraq. The numbers have vastly increased but rights campaigners say most swiftly leave Hungary.

It’s not known how many of the hundreds of thousands of festival-goers responded to the donation call.

Every day, some 1,500 mostly Afghan, Iraqi and Syrian refugees stream through the woods from Serbia into Hungary, reports Reuters.

Detained by police for registration, then set free and told to report to asylum centers, most make a beeline for the West instead, adding to the European Union’s growing migrant crisis.

While Hungary is a transit route rather than a destination for most, the growing influx is wearying. Camping out in woodland and train stations, sleeping on city streets, including in Budapest, the migrants leave behind a stream of trash.

Hungary’s leaders have tried to shut down the growing flow.

Construction began this week on a 175-kilometre razor-wire border fence to deter migrants. Asylum laws were tightened to allow swift deportation. And Hungary has started refusing to take back migrants from other EU countries even when the bloc’s rules would require that.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a rights group, said the government inflates the problem by highlighting that nearly 100,000 migrants have arrived in Hungary so far this year, more than double the 43,000 in 2014.

“Ninety percent or more of those people are no longer in Hungary,” Helsinki Committee co-chair Marta Pardavi said. “There are more people homeless in Budapest - only the migrants are more visible.”

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