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Refugees: Europe's Dual Reality | ZEIT ONLINE

Keleti Station in Budapest on Wednesday night. The station's underground level is packed with thousands of refugees, along with their tents, sleeping bags, suitcases and backpacks. It is a gigantic refugee camp with an estimated 3,000 people. The handful of helpers in the Migration Aid Center -- who collect and distribute donations and aid supplies -- are hopelessly overextended. The health and hygiene conditions are catastrophic. Small children and even babies sleep on the floor. This Hungary is supposed to be responsible for the refugees according to the Dublin Regulation? We in Europe talk about safe countries of origin outside the EU? You only have to spend a couple hours in this train station to know that not even EU-member Hungary is a safe country for those seeking help. People from Vienna, located just a two-and-a-half hour drive from here, keep showing up. And each of them has a family with children in their backseat when they return to Austria. It's not legal. But what does that matter? On Sunday, an entire convoy of cars is set to head from Vienna to Budapest. It's clever motto: "Rail Replacement Service."

It's as though there were two realities: On the one hand is scandalous misery and the governments, with their dysfunctional asylum policies and attempts to seal their countries off. On the other is the wave of helpfulness, the uprising of volunteer helpers. The reports and images of people who are doing all they can. Racist agitators and "asylum critics" have been almost completely drowned out. Even completely normal people -- not just those often referred to as "do-gooders" -- are suddenly proud of the fact that their society is presenting itself in the best possible light. Suddenly, it is no longer the good ones who are disheartened and despondent -- for they are giving each other courage in these difficult days. Rather, it is the mean-spirited who have suddenly become quiet. Agitating and standing by as others drown suddenly isn't cool anymore.

The one Europe is failing. And the other is putting its best foot forward.

by Katrin on Fri Sep 4th, 2015 at 08:29:02 AM EST

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