'We want to be free': Refugees look for way out of Hungary

Despite temporary reversal of government policy, many asylum seekers remain stranded at Budapest's largest train station

BUDAPEST — Bacha Wali has sought shelter in the crowded and increasingly squalid Keleti train station for over week. And while he desperately wants to depart, he, like many others, are stranded.

"We don't have money, and we don't know how to leave this place," he said.

Exhausted from a long journey fleeing violence in Afghanistan, Wali said he and his friends were asleep when buses came to take refugees to the Austrian border on Friday night.

After refugees breached police lines Friday and started walking along train tracks and motorways toward Austria, Hungary bowed to pressure and provided them transportation to the border. But authorities called it a one-off, leaving those who missed the buses left to find their own way.

That includes Taj Mohammad, 20, who fled the Taliban in Afghanistan and is now waiting for his brother and wife to arrive and for his father to send money for a train ticket.

˝My family is in Debrecen, they [will] come here ... then I want to go," he said.

Police separated Mohammad from his family when they were caught crossing the border into Hungary — sending them to different refugee camps.

He left the camp yesterday and slept last night at the station but has no idea how long he will haev to wait for his family.

Authorities allowed refugees to go on international trains yesterday, but many were too afraid. Trust was in short supply after a train that was supposed to head across the border on Thursday instead stopped at a town near a refugee camp.

And reports of the camps' conditions are not making anyone eager to be detained in one.

Ahmed, from Aleppo, Syria, was sent to a refugee camp after he was caught crossing the border. He said he was given a single slice of bread to feed himself for an entire day and was forced to watch an officer devour a hamburger in front of him.

Ahmed, who declined to give his last name, said one of the policeman told him, "I love your president because he killed [your people].’”

Another refugee from Afghanistan, Ahmed Moustapha, compared the camps to jail: “You are not free. You have to stay in a compound. We already had that in our country — we want to be free.˝

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