A welcome awaits at Nyugati train station for Ukraine refugees
With the larger proportion of refugees heading towards Poland, some 180,000 persons have crossed the land borders into Hungary. In particular, these have been via the main 24/7 Chop to Záhony border crossing, where a regular four-hour train service connects directly to Budapest.
After customs and passport procedures, it’s a free train ride and then a welcoming hands-on affair on arrival at Nyugati railway station. These brave and blameless people are ushered to a well-organised makeshift help centre that has now taken over the normally closed Király váróterem, the King’s Waiting-room, a feature of imperial times long since gone.
From this point onwards, friendly helpers take over with relief efforts for the new arrivals. All kinds of essentials are on offer, including free SMS cards, local transport passes, accommodation, translators and general advice. If one needs to go on to Vienna, this also comes accessible free of charge.
There are refreshment stalls providing basic buffet fayre to young and old weary travellers alike. The Magyar Vöröskereszt, the Hungarian Red-Cross, is also there. For accommodation, the Ukrainians need to register with the willing assistants at a reception desk. From there they receive a referral to a place of stay. Either it’s accessible by public transport or a local person with a car will drive them there, also for free.
Although well-organised by Hungarians and well-received by the many who made their perilous way there, the sense of bewilderment and uncertainty about what is next still remains. No doubt this help centre will continue to remain busy until further notice.
To take part as a volunteer, go to Nyugati railway station directly and seek out what is both a heart-breaking and a heart-warming scene. You will be made most welcome.