Police were absent from Keleti Railway Station this morning, allowing hundreds of refugees to board trains departing for Germany for the first time in roughly a week, according to an aid worker there. “They were allowed to leave. The question is whether they will be sent back,” said Tamás Lederer, who heads operations at the Migration Aid station at Keleti.
Lederer, 42, a university professor, said that police had stopped letting refugees board trains after an incident on one train caused delays at the Austrian border about a week ago. This morning the police stopped watching the transit zone set up at Keleti and refugees were free to board trains, he said.
He added that the trains are sometimes allowed to travel through Austria to Germany and in other cases people who do not have travel documents are sent back to Budapest.
“We are waiting to see what happens now,” said Lederer, noting that the situation has changed in the last week.
The influx of refugees has increased dramatically in the past couple of weeks, as refugees scramble to enter Hungary before a fence is completed on the border with Serbia. Meanwhile, Germany has taken a more lax stance on refugees, and Thursday’s discovery of 71 refugees, who died while apparently being smuggled into Austria from Hungary in a truck with no ventilation, has encouraged a more lenient approach in general.
Lederer’s organization, Migration Aid, has an office distributing aid and providing medical services to the hundreds of refugees who arrive at Keleti every day, in the hopes of getting on west-bound trains. The service is run on a volunteer basis and offers food and clothing donated by individuals and corporations.