Thousands of Syrian migrants are being welcomed with cheers, candy and open arms as they finally reached the lands of their new beginnings: Austria and Germany.
Islamic State militants have seized control of one-third of Syria and are driving the civil war responsible for more than 250,000 deaths and more than 1 million people wounded.
Many of the migrants cry tears of joy at their westward journey’s end, becoming the first wave in a flood of 800,000 asylum seekers expected in Germany by the end of the year. Those arriving in Munich were greeted by local residents with applause, sweets and stuffed animals for the kids.
Thousands more were following in their footsteps. Trains with refugees are arriving in Salzburg, Austria, at least once an hour.
While the migrants were being welcomed into Germany, others were photographed collapsing to the ground and begging for food in port cities in Greece.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her nation would continue with its open-arms approach in the crisis. “As a strong, economically healthy country we have the strength to do what is necessary (to place) no limits on the number of asylum seekers,” she said.
Her finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said the German government was creating a supplementary budget for the rest of 2015 to cover the expenses of the new arrivals.
The offer of assistance from Germany and Austria was hailed by the global human rights group Amnesty International. “After endless examples of shameful treatment by governments of refugees and migrants in Europe, it is a relief to finally see a sliver of humanity,” said the group’s deputy director for Europe, Gauri van Gulik. “The pragmatic and human approach applied here should become the rule, not the exception.”
[News Wire Services]