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Migrants Resume Protests at Budapest Train Station, Want to Go On to Germany

NBC Explores How Budapest Station Operates with Migrants On Site 0:25

BUDAPEST — Hundreds of migrants protested in front of Budapest's Keleti Railway Terminus for a second straight day on Wednesday, shouting "Freedom, freedom!" and demanding to be let onto trains bound for Germany from a station that has been closed to them.

Chaos this week at the station in the Hungarian capital has become the latest symbol of Europe's migration crisis, the continent's worst since the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Image: Hungarian police guard refugees at a makeshift camp in an underground station near the Keleti train station in Budapest
Hungarian police guard refugees at a makeshift camp in an underground station near the Keleti train station in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 2. LEONHARD FOEGER / Reuters

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More than 2,000 migrants, including families with children, were waiting in the square at the station while Hungarians with IDs and foreigners with valid passports could board the trains.

About 300 migrants stared down police in riot gear on one side of the station. One waved a makeshift sign saying 'We Want Our Freedom'.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war and economic migrants escaping poverty have been arriving in Europe, on rickety boats across the Mediterranean and over land across the Balkan peninsula.

Nearly all reach the EU on its southern or eastern outskirts and then press on for the richer and more generous countries further north and west, ignoring EU rules which require them to wait for processing in the country where they first arrive.

Afghans Gather Around Their Flag Outside Budapest Rail Station 0:43

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Germany, which is prepared to take by far the greatest number, has begun accepting asylum claims from Syrian refugees regardless of where they entered the EU, even though undocumented migrants are theoretically barred from travel across the bloc. That has caused confusion for its neighbors, which have alternated this week between letting them through and blocking them.

Many have come overland across the Balkans through Hungary, which allowed thousands to board trains for Germany on Monday but has since called a halt to the travel, leaving migrants camped in the summer heat in central Budapest.