Friday, September 25, 2015

Refugee Border Crossing, Salzburg, Austria

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The border crossing at Salzburg, Austria, over the Salzburgerbruecke is one of the hotspots of the international media coverage.

It is here that the refugees, subject to the border closure by the German Federal Police, must wait until they are brought into Germany.

From a lengthy discussion with the Federal police speaker, it's a rather involved process they have been charged with and, to my knowledge, with little involvement from their Austrian counterparts, despite the fact that the refugees are waiting on the Austrian side of the bridge to get into Germany.  Numerous volunteers and help organization (Freilassing Hilfe, Red Cross, UNHCR) are on site bridging the gap between the German police on their side of the border and the refugees who are physically in Austria.  The refugees are lined up to be brought into Germany, after preliminary checks, then board large Federal Police buses to be brought to a furniture building for further processing.  From there, they reach the Freilassing train station and are photographed, fingerprinted (if needed), documents checked, and separated, by such things as age (more below).  The train at the station was bound for Duesseldorf, as Munich has closed its doors to refugees due to Oktoberfest.  Additional point of note: the police lock the doors to the trains.

Numerous minors traveling alone were separated out, as the police speaker mentioned they have special needs for travel and require assistance to assure safe passage.

Also of note, and rather shocking: how numerous the infants and children were among the refugees- not falling into the rumors spread around by racists, populists, and nationalists.

I spent several hours speaking with the refugees, hearing their plights, seeing pics of their hometowns and the devastation they fled from.  Additionally, numerous refugees are obviously educated and fled middle class backgrounds due to devastation in their homelands and unending wars.  Many fear the police of their home countries seeing their photos and declined to be photographed.  Some warmed up later.  There was incredible optimism for a new life to begin for them and end the dangerous and difficult prilgrimages.

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View from Germany of the refugees lined up in Austria.

Mohammed, who fled Fallujah, hopes to begin his new life in Germany.  Since he traveled alone, he has a lower preference to be called into Germany.

This is where numerous refugees sleep at night, while they go to the bridge during the day, hoping to be called to enter Germany.

Train in Freilassing, Germany, bound for Duesseldorf.

UNHCR on the scene.

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