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'We love Germany!', cry relieved refugees at Munich station

02 september 2015, 14:22
0

"We love Germany," several young migrants yelled happily as they stumbled out of a train in Munich -- the last stop, they hope, of their long and perilous journey from war, AFP reports.

Whatever fatigue and fear they had was wiped away by the relief of having reached Germany, and seeing a welcoming crowd of people holding up banners reading "Welcome!"

"Thank you Germany!", chanted the new arrivals in return.

Women and children were among the hundreds who had travelled on foot, by boat, bus and train, fleeing war in countries including Syria and Somalia in recent weeks and months.

"We are happy to have made it to Munich. But now we are tired, just really tired," said one Syrian woman, dark rings under her eyes, who had fled Aleppo with her husband and three children.

Another man from the same devastated city said: "We could no longer live there."

He was carrying two children in his arms, aged around three and four. Standing beside him was his wife, who had another toddler in her arms and a boy holding her hand.

Germany has become the top destination for migrants seeking refuge in Europe, and expects to receive 800,000 this year, a record number and four times as many as in 2014.

Syrians in particular are trying to get to Europe's biggest economy, as Berlin has eased asylum-seeking procedures for those fleeing the brutal civil war.

German police registered a record 2,200 migrant arrivals in the country's key southern border region with Austria in the 24 hours to Tuesday morning.

Arrivals spiked as passenger trains, each packed with hundreds of refugees, left Hungary and crossed through Austria to head into Germany's southern Bavaria state.

 'Overwhelmed by donations' 

Facing the major influx into an already crowded major rail hub, Munich's police were keeping up a certain level of German orderliness despite the large numbers of arrivals.

Refugees were quickly guided away to a closed off area where they were put on coaches to take them to temporary shelters.

A medical service, portable toilets, and a registration centre were also at hand at the station. 

For many of the new arrivals, what made the difference was the welcome they received.

"In Hungary, that was very, very bad. The children there didn't have any clean water, they didn't have any food, and the police in Hungary is very bad man," said Abdel Alim, a Syrian, speaking in halting English.

Munich residents brought food, drinks and baby necessities including nappies, which were distributed by dozens of volunteers.

Andreas Duchmann, a 21-year-old apprentice, was one of these volunteers, who had gone to the main station with his friends to offer his help, after finding out that refugees were arriving there from Hungary.

The young man had taken time off from work, citing an emergency situation, to organise a welcoming centre with his pals.

They bought water and cookies with their own money and made several appeals on the radio for the wider population to help.

The appeal has paid off with a continuous flow of people asking "what else do you need?", "can we buy this?".

In fact, the offers were so numerous that police said on Twitter Tuesday: "We are overwhelmed by the donations from the Munich people for the refugees at the main station. Please don't bring any more things."


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