Thousands of refugees stranded at Budapest train station

The Hungarian government has halted rail travel for refugees and migrants, stranding hundreds at a makeshift camp. James Mates of Independent Television News reports from Budapest.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    There is even more tragedy to report tonight, as desperate migrants and refugees attempt to make their way to and through Europe.

    At least 11 people drowned near the Greek island of Kos when two boats sank, including this small boy, captured in a photograph that immediately went viral. They are all thought to be Syrian refugees.

    Meanwhile, in Hungary, the governments halted rail travel for refugees and migrants, creating a desperate and angry situation in the capital, Budapest.

    James Mates of Independent Television News is there and he filed this report.

  • JAMES MATES:

    The mood is darkening outside Budapest's main station. Almost 36 hours now since the exit route north to Austria and then Germany was closed, and there is growing impatience among the thousands here stuck in a country where they don't want to be.

    They chant the name of the place where they believe they will find a welcome. The police kept riot gear, even cans of C.S. gas close to hand, though, in the event, none was needed. But it is down beneath the station in a concourse leading to the city's metro that most of the thousands here are making home, a small sea of humanity spread across concrete floors, most with nothing more than a blanket or piece of foam.

    It is shelter from the blazing sun and some cover at night. But for parents with young families, this is no place to be living.

    Samir Hasnan was a computer engineer in Damascus traveling now with his wife and three sons. Unhappy as he is right here, it is better than where he came from.

    SAMIR HASNAN, Syrian migrant: What pushed me to be over here is the war in my country, which is I don't want to be killing or be killed from other people. So, I have to run away with my children from over there. So, I need peace, peaceful place on the earth.

  • JAMES MATES:

    There are many, many children here, some physically small, and even the very young are pressed into family duty. There is food and water, but nothing for them to do from morning until night. A volunteer brought in paper and pencils, a kind thought, but no more than a gesture.

    A standpipe has been erected for basic washing and hygiene, but aid workers fear what will happen if this situation drags on.

  • LYDIA GALL, Human Rights Watch:

    There are thousands of people here. You can see that there is only one water source here for people. Everything else is provided for by volunteers, ordinary Hungarians who bring the stuff to the people. The government is nowhere to be seen. They're stuck here. They can't travel further.

  • JAMES MATES:

    Far from this spot in grand buildings on the Danube, the government insists that it alone is enforcing European rules.

  • ZOLTAN KOVACS, Hungarian Government Spokesman:

    Law and order should be reestablished at the borders of the European Union. Discipline should be reintroduced to the system through which not only Hungary, but the European countries are handling migrants. And we have to face reality. This is not a refugee crisis. This is a major — this is a mass migration that is coming from Africa and the Near East, which requires a different handling, a new set of rules.

  • JAMES MATES:

    There are undoubtedly economic migrants among the thousands here, though it's also true a clear majority are refugees from war in Syria, or Iraq or Afghanistan. And as they remind us, above all, they are human, and might have expected, even deserve, better than this.

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