Harrowing pictures of a drowned Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach brought home the horror of the escalating refugee crisis today as Europe was accused of letting the Mediterranean become a “cemetery” for migrants.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan bluntly blamed EU states for the death of every single migrant who lost their lives making the perilous journey to Europe.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also lashed out at Germany over its handling of the crisis as scenes of chaos erupted in his country.
The deep rifts in Europe were highlighted as Orban held urgent talks with the European Union’s top officials in Brussels over worst crisis of its kind since World War II.
After seeing the “horrifying” images of the boy, Spain’s prime minister urged the world to act to end the Syrian war, and his Italian counterpart said Europe cannot just be emotional about the deaths of people seeking refugee from war and persecution.
“Faced with these images which tear and move the hearts of every father, we must be aware that we need a global strategy and Europe cannot lose face,” Italian premier Matteo Renzi said.
In scenes that underscore the desperation of the migrants, hundreds rushed Budapest’s reopened station to catch a train that was later stopped on the way to the Austrian border and unloaded near a refugee camp.
“The problem is not a European problem, the problem is a German problem,” the Hungarian premier told a press conference with European Parliament President Martin Schulz.
Orban said German Chancellor Angela Merkel had insisted that no refugees could leave Hungary without being registered there first, in line with “clear-cut” EU rules that asylum seekers’ claims must be dealt with by their initial country of entry.
“Nobody wants to stay in Hungary, neither in Slovakia, nor Poland, nor Estonia. All want to go to Germany. Our job is just to register them.”
Hungary has faced criticism for erecting a fence on the border with Serbia, as well as for refusing to let migrants board trains to Germany, the main destination for many.
EU president Donald Tusk called on member states today to share the resettlement of at least 100,000 refugees — far above the current agreement on 32,000.
And Merkel said France and Germany had agreed that binding migrant quotas were needed.