New York Times 旭川時事英語研究会

Pope Calls on All of Europe’s Catholics to House Refugees

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By ALISON SMALESEPT. 6, 2015              The New York Times

20150907MIGRANTS-slide-TL4I-jumboMarko Drobnjakovic/Associated Press

VIENNA — Pope Francis added his voice Sunday to those of politicians and legions of volunteers welcoming refugees to Europe, calling on all Roman Catholics — and by extension all fellow Europeans — to take in people who “flee death in conflict and hunger.”

He was responding for the first time, in public at least, to the mass migration of tens of thousands of people, many from Syria and Iraq, but also Afghanistan, who have been arriving in Europe in recent weeks.

Referring to the “tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees that flee death in conflict and hunger and are on a journey of hope,” Francis said, according to Vatican Radio, “the Gospel calls us to be close to the smallest and to those who have been abandoned.” He specifically asked that the European bishops support the effort.

Evidence suggested on Sunday that the march of migrants from Turkey and Greece, then through the Balkans and Hungary into wealthier Central Europe was unbroken. More than 10,000 people arrived in Austria en route to Germanyafter the two countries threw open their borders late Friday to refugees in Hungary who were either walking to Austria, or huddled in a squalid makeshift camp at a Budapest rail station, insisting on moving westward.

06MIGRANTS-hp-articleLargePope Francis spoke to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday. Credit Riccardo De Luca/Associated Press

On Sunday, the Hungarian authorities started what they billed as a clampdown on the influx of refugees from over the southern border with Serbia. Hundreds were gathered into what the government called reception centers but local police officers were calling a new “alien holding center,” while construction crews were putting the finishing touches on a 12-foot fence topped with razor wire spanning the entire 108-mile border.

In contrast, volunteers raced to rail stations in Austria and Germany to offer food, drink, toys and cigarettes to arriving migrants, applauding each train and emphasizing that the newcomers were welcome.

Several hundred people at Westbahnhof in Vienna encouraged migrants who had come from Hegyeshalom in Hungary to switch trains for Salzburg and on to Germany.

“It is such a unique feeling of closeness,” said Gioia Osthoff, an actress who turns 25 on Monday and was on her third consecutive day of helping migrants. “You give people things, they are grateful. Suddenly, a father who I don’t know was hugging me. The police, the railways, everyone is doing just the right thing.”

Asked why he joined the crowds at Westbahnhof, a well-known Austrian filmmaker, Franz Novotny, said simply: “Civic duty.”

In Cyprus, the authorities said on Sunday that they had rescued 114 people believed to be refugees fleeing Syria after their fishing boat issued a distress call some 46 miles off the island’s southern coast, The Associated Press reported.

Thousands of migrants continued to arrive on Lesbos and other Greek islands from Turkey. Greece ferried 1,744 migrants on Sunday from Lesbos to Athens, and a second vessel carrying as many as 2,500 migrants was expected to sail later in the day, heading north along the Balkan land route taken by tens of thousands of others in recent weeks.

 

In an indication of the breadth of the migrant wave, the Egyptian Navy seized three fishing boats in the Mediterranean that were carrying 228 migrants trying to make their way to Europe, the military said on Sunday.

Agence France-Presse reported that the military said on its Facebook page that 17 crew members were arrested during the operation off the coast of Egypt’s second city, Alexandria.

In Germany, which has taken in the most refugees and expects 800,000 asylum seekers this year, volunteers were active again Sunday at the main Munich rail station and other locations across the country, welcoming the new arrivals in a determined display of hospitality that counters right-wing resistance to the newcomers.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was to discuss the situation with her partners in her coalition government on Sunday evening. The Social Democrats back Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats in offering a determined welcome and insisting that Germany can afford to take in the expected arrivals.

But some members of the Christian Social Union, the more conservative party in Ms. Merkel’s center-right bloc, have raised objections.

Peter Altmaier, Ms. Merkel’s chief of staff, told a public broadcaster that the chancellor held talks throughout Saturday with German and European partners in an effort to get everyEuropean Union member to take in a share of refugees.

“We have been facing this challenge for several months and we continue to take in refugees,” Mr. Altmaier said. “But we need a readiness in other European countries to join in.”

“I am convinced that the situation will normalize itself when we are able to come to a European consensus, as we did in the crisis in Ukraine, in the crisis in Greece, that is supported by all countries in Europe,” Mr. Altmaier said.

Austria faces a similar influx — 80,000 asylum applicants are expected this year in a country of eight million, about one-tenth the population of Germany. That prospect has bolstered far-right populists at the expense of the governing Social Democrats and conservatives, who face bellwether elections in Vienna in early October.

Perhaps with an eye to the coming vote, Chancellor Werner Faymann said in a statement Sunday that after helping more than 12,000 people cross from Hungary this weekend, Austria would move gradually back to normal.

“We always said this is an emergency situation which has to be treated quickly and humanely,” said Mr. Faymann, who added that he had spoken several times with Ms. Merkel and Prime MinisterViktor Orban of Hungary.

A convoy of some 150 cars driven by Austrian volunteers headed toward Hungary on Sunday, with organizers saying they would pick up any refugees who wanted to go West. The police warned the drivers against exposing themselves to charges in Hungary that they were in effect smuggling people across borders.

The mass movement has produced a sharp spike in people smuggling, with the most tragic case occurring in Austria, where 71 people were found dead in an abandoned truck southeast of Vienna on Aug. 27. Since then, officials have reported that almost 200 other people narrowly averted death in vehicles crammed with stowaways who pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for the promise of reaching Austria, Germany or other wealthy nations in Europe.

Coincidentally, it was exactly 26 years ago on a first September Sunday that Hungary opened its border at Hegyeshalom to allow tens of thousands of East Germans to cross into Austria at Nickelsdorf and continue through Austria to what was then West Germany, precipitating the end of the Cold War.

Hungary’s behavior in recent days — allowing and then barring refugees from trains into Austria, and building the fence on its southern border with Serbia to discourage migrants from entering — has come under criticism from its 27 partners in the European Union.

Jean Asselborn, the foreign minister of Luxembourg, which now holds the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union, told German television on Sunday that Hungary and other former Communist nations in Central and Eastern Europe had gained not only rights but also shouldered responsibilities in joining the union.

It is important, Mr. Asselborn said, for the European Union to respond to an expected request from Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, to absorb 160,000 refugees under an agreed quota system.

“We must do this,” Mr. Asselborn said. “I think we are capable of that.”

Sensitive to criticism of callousness in response to the wave of migrants, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain is prepared to accept up to 15,000 Syrian refugees, but only from camps in that region, including from Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey, officials told The Sunday Times of London.

The British do not want to add any further incentive, or “pull factor,” that will encourage more refugees to risk the passage to Europe, nor to favor those migrants who could afford to pay people smugglers over those who are in the regional camps. With euroskeptics inside and outside Mr. Cameron’s ruling Conservative Party critical of Brussels, Britain will continue to reject the idea of mandatory quotas to distribute migrants and asylum seekers already in Europe.

Britain will also allocate some of the financial aid it usually sends abroad to house and integrate Syrian refugees for the first year in Britain and to increase aid to refugee camps in the region, the chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said on Sunday. He refused to confirm a specific figure for the refugees. Mr. Cameron announced last week that Britain will add another $150 million to the $1.4 billion it already provides for humanitarian aid to displaced Syrians.

Reporting was contributed by Palko Karasz in Hungary, Melissa Eddy in Berlin, Steven Erlanger in London and Gaia Pianigiani in Rome.

 







-New York Times, 旭川時事英語研究会

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