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Hungary Forces Migrants Off Train Near Detention Center

Hundreds of bewildered migrants were allowed to cram onto a train heading for Western Europe on Hungary on Thursday — but an hour later they were forced to disembark near a detention center.
Photo par Zoltan Balogh/EPA

VICE News is closely watching the international migrant crisis. Check out the Open Water blog here.

There was chaos, confusion, and confrontation in Hungary on Thursday as police forced migrants off a train bound for the Austrian border, hours after they were allowed to board at Budapest station following a two-day blockade.

Dozens lay on train tracks in a station in the Hungarian town of Bicske to protest against being taken to a nearby detention camp, reported Reuters, with one man, his wife, and their toddler wrestled off the ground by a dozen riot police.

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Other migrants pushed back dozens of officers to fight their way back on board the train.

Hundreds of exhausted and confused migrants had been allowed to cram onto the train at Budapest station on Thursday morning, after thousands had camped outside the station for days.

An announcement by Germany that it would unconditionally accept Syrian asylum seekers — bypassing European Union (EU) regulations stating asylum applications must be processed in the first country migrants arrive in — has prompted even more migrants to attempt to travel there.

For months Hungary had been allowing most asylum seekers to buy tickets and board trains heading to Western Europe, but on Tuesday it stopped them from entering Budapest's Keleti station.

It seemed that decision had been reversed Thursday, but it later appeared the move had possibly been a trick deliberately planned by authorities to get migrants out of the capital and into detention camps.

The train was stopped at the town of Bicske, where one of Hungary's four main refugee camps is located. Passengers thought to be migrants were ordered to disembark, reported the Guardian, with some refusing and banging on the windows shouting "No camp, no camp!"

Related: Germany Is Set to Accept Asylum Applications From all Syrians Who Arrive There

The Hungarian government, which is building a four-meter (13 feet) high razor wire fence along its border with Serbia, was criticized for its handling of the crisis on Thursday amid a meeting for European Union leaders and subsequent news conference.

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But center-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the migration crisis was a "German problem" and defended his government's policies, saying it "would be a moral failure" to give the impression that Hungary would accept anybody because that was not the case. "So the moral, human thing is to make clear: Please don't come," he said.

A wave of public outrage at Europe's response to the crisis is growing across the continent, heightened on Wednesday by photographs of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach, which spread across the internet appeared on newspaper front pages on Thursday.

The toddler was one of at least 12 people who died trying to get to a Greek island recently. Thousands of asylum seekers have died at sea and scores have died on land as the world experiences its worst refugee crisis since the World War II, driven by devastating conflicts in Africa and the Middle East.

Related: Shocking Images of Drowned Boy Spark Anger as Europe Disagrees Over Migrant Crisis

EU leaders are in dispute over how to handle the crisis, with Germany pushing for a quota system to distribute refugees evenly across Europe, while other nations want to keep their doors shut.

A national day of solidarity with refugees is planned for September 12 in the UK, two days before Home Secretary Theresa May meets EU leaders to discuss the situation.

Just 216 Syrian asylum seekers qualified for the UK's official Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme which began in early 2014, and Prime Minister David Cameron has said the final number will not exceed 1,000.

Now, a petition urging the Britain to accept more refugees received more than the 100,000 signatures it needs to be considered for debate by the country's MPs.

On Thursday, Cameron said that the UK would take thousands more asylum seekers and fulfil its "moral responsibilities" towards refugees.

Germany meanwhile, has said it expects to take at least 800,000 asylum seekers this year, and says the UK's position within the EU could be threatened if it does not share responsibility in easing the "huge humanitarian burden."