Facing Fences, Tear Gas, Migrants Forced to Improvise

Hungary's cracking down, so other countries are scrambling to help
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2015 9:16 AM CDT
Facing Fences, Tear Gas, Migrants Forced to Improvise
Migrants rest at a makeshift camp at a border crossing into Hungary, near Horgos, Serbia, today.   (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

More than 500 migrants have been detained for illegally entering Hungary or breaching a border fence, with nearly 50 criminal cases on the books since new laws took effect yesterday, the New York Times reports, while the BBC notes that Hungarian riot police today fired tear gas at migrants trying to break through the border with Serbia. And as restrictions tighten, migrants are seeking other ways into Western Europe through Slovenia and Croatia, as well as through Hungary's border with Romania. Issues remain: Hungary’s poorer neighbors may be ill-equipped to handle the flow, and there are areas peppered with land mines, remnants of the Balkan Wars. While solutions are sought, thousands spent last night in a Vienna train station, per the Times, while at least 22 migrants drowned yesterday in the Aegean Sea, the Post notes—a sad repeat of a similar incident a couple of days earlier.

Leaders of neighboring nations are scrambling to come up with their own plans for dealing with the influx, which is no small task: The EU border agency notes a head count of 500,000 migrants at EU nations' entry points so far in 2015; last year that number was around 280,000, the BBC reports. Many are refugees fleeing high-conflict areas such as Syria and Iraq, per the Washington Post, which adds there's a noted "absence of a coordinated policy for the unprecedented influx." "Barbed wire in Europe in the 21st century is not an answer, it's a threat," Croatia's PM says, per the Post, adding that Croatia would "accept and direct" migrants through his country. An Egyptian billionaire who says he wants "to clear my conscience as a human being" has come up with an even more creative stopgap for the Syrian refugees involved: hosting them on two available Greek islands, using a joint-stock company to accept donations, Bloomberg reports. (The US is trying to help out.)

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