Austria Slams Hungary Over Treatment of Refugees

Austria Slams Hungary Over Treatment of Refugees Austria Slams Hungary Over Treatment of Refugees

Austria’s chancellor criticized Hungary for its handling of the refugee crisis on Saturday, likening the country’s policies to Nazi deportations during the Holocaust, as refugees complained of their treatment in the eastern European country.

In an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann likened Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s treatment of refugees to the Nazis’ deportation of Jews and others to concentration camps.

“Sticking refugees in trains and sending them somewhere completely different to where they think they’re going reminds us of the darkest chapter of our continent’s history,” he said.

Hungary dismissed Faymann’s comments as “utterly unworthy of a 21st century European leader” and summoned Austria’s ambassador.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said the Austrian chancellor had been pursuing a “campaign of lies” against Hungary for weeks that made it harder to find a common European solution to the crisis.

  “They Put Us in Jails”

Saeed, a 25-year-old Syrian, was one of many refugees complaining about his treatment in Hungary. Speaking in the Austrian border town of Nickelsdorf, he said he had spent the last six days in Hungary, where he was taken to five camps and had to sleep standing up in an overcrowded room.

“They put us in jails. We were there for a week, so little food, one of these little breads in the morning and one at night ... Everyone has a cold because there is no heating or anything there,” he said.

“I escaped from Syria because I wasn’t treated like a person, like a human being there and I came to Hungary and I was treated like an animal,” he added.

Hungarian authorities were not immediately able to comment on the refugees’ complaints.

In an interview due to be published in the Sunday edition of Austrian newspaper Oesterreich, Faymann said: “It is unacceptable that refugees arrive from Hungary afraid, panicked, hungry and sometimes traumatized.”

Orban, a conservative populist always keen to undercut his main political rival, the far-right Jobbik party, has taken a tough stance during the crisis and told German newspaper Bild’s Saturday edition that refugees should be sent back once Hungary closes its borders on Sept 15.

Asked where, he said: “Where they came from. These migrants are not coming to us from war zones but rather from camps in countries neighboring Syria like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. They were safe there.”

He said he would take a refugee family into his own home if he was sure this would not encourage others to come to Europe, adding that the continent would “perish” if it continued to take in millions of refugees.

  Munich Buckles Under Strain

In Munich, refugees are collected from train platforms by police and taken to the main hall, where volunteers–some of them wearing T-Shirts featuring the slogan “Refugees welcome”–give them bottles of water, fruit, nappies and clothes.

After a quick medical checkup, they generally board buses and are on their way to their emergency accommodation in Munich or elsewhere in Bavaria within an hour of arriving.

Christoph Hillenbrand, senior administrator of the Upper Bavaria district around Munich, said he had organized 5,000 emergency accommodation places for the night but he was concerned these would not suffice.

Germany is expecting to take in around 800,000 refugees this year and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Friday that the country expected to receive 40,000 migrants this weekend.