By Griff Witte,
BICSKE, Hungary — On Friday, this humble town in the Hungarian countryside 20 miles west of Budapest was nearly the scene of a tragedy.
Hundreds of migrants — women and children among them — chanted “SOS!” from the carriage of a commuter train as dozens of riot police swarmed around. The authorities’ message was clear: Unless the refugees surrendered, the police would storm the train.
Just 24 hours later, those same migrants were back at the station. But this time, the police had given them an escort, leading them through the town’s pastoral lanes as dogs barked and locals waved fond goodbyes.
Rather than threatening a potentially violent operation to keep the migrants inside Hungary, the police were dispatched to ensure that they left. Rather than fearing for their lives, the migrants were overcome with relief.
“I think the worst part of my journey is finally over,” said Mayssa, a gregarious and bright-eyed 32-year-old teacher who had been traveling for more than three weeks with her two children.
“I said to God, ‘Please help me,’ ” she said. “And now my God has helped me.”
Perhaps no place better encapsulates the topsy-turvy developments in Hungary in recent days than Bicske, an unassuming place that took on an oversized role in Europe’s burgeoning refugee crisis.
It started Thursday when a train pulled into the small station here and police ordered the hundreds of migrants who had clambered aboard in Budapest to get off. The migrants refused, saying they had been told the train was bound for Germany.
A standoff ensued, lasting through the night and deep into the following afternoon. It ended when the migrants relented: They walked off the train and were bused to a nearby refugee center, where they were forced to register.
The migrants feared that doing so would doom their chances of reaching their intended destination: the wealthier countries of northern Europe.
But in the end, it only set them back a day.
Late Friday night, it was the authorities who backed down after more than 1,000 refugees set off on foot from Budapest’s main railway station on an epic march toward the Austrian border.
After days of effectively penning the refugees inside the country, the government decided to grease their exit, dispatching dozens of border-bound buses.
Hungarian town becomes scene of joyous departure after averted tragedy – Washington Post
By Griff Witte,