September 9th 2015
Today I saw with my own eyes the hundreds of Syrian refugees camped out at Budapest station.
We arrived in Budapest and I expected to see refugees, because I’d heard and read about Hungary being so… Welcoming. We’d even seen one refuge wee family walking parallel to the train tracks. But when we got off the train it just seemed like a normal train station, and I’ve seen a lot of train stations over the past month.
I assumed that maybe it wasn’t as bad I’d heard, I thought the train station was going to be full to bursting. But it was quiet. Eerily quiet.
When we got outside after, I’m sure, being ripped off at the bank as we exchanged 100€ for 25,000 Hungarian florists and feeling simultaneously the richest we ever had and the poorest, there’s this little underpass thing, like the hole in the middle of a donut, and there’s another level below. On the upper level it’s almost a viewing platform looking down on the lower.
And on the lower level there are hundreds of tents and sleeping bags full of refugees that have escaped war to find, well, refuge.
In modern media you see all types of atrocities all the time, front pages of newspapers with drowning children, bomb victims with half-missing limbs, crying fathers looking for their kids. There’s so much terror in the world but you don’t worry too much, I don’t at least, because it’s all happening so far away.
I’d even seen a video on Twitter of a journalist showing all of the refugees that were camped out at Budapest station.
Well today I saw it with my own eyes.
I saw devastation, despair, pain, terror.
And that’s not something I’m used to seeing living my privileged British life or on my jolly good fun adventure around Europe.
I dunno, it made me feel funny. It made – all of that – feel a bit more real. Like it wasn’t just happening on the TV or in the papers. Like it was happening to real people with real families.
I don’t fully understand what’s happening in Syria, in fact, I barely know at all. But if grown men, women and small children would rather sleep on a concrete floor outside of a train station in a country foreign to them, then I can only imagine how bad the alternative must be.
What struck me is how they were just sat there, or stood there, by themselves, talking, or sitting in a circle. Or not saying anything. They don’t want anything, they aren’t asking for anything. All they want is to be anywhere else but home.
Until tomorrow, see it with your own eyes.