Migrant crisis: Rallies in Europe as 9,000 arrive in Munich

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Media captionPro-refugee rallies were held in capital cities across Europe

Tens of thousands of people have taken part in a "day of action" in several European cities - and in Australia - in support of refugees and migrants.

There have also been counter-demonstrations in some countries.

Europe is struggling to cope with an enormous influx of people, mostly from Syria, who are fleeing violence and poverty in their own countries.

More than 9,000 migrants arrived in Munich on Saturday. Germany expects 40,000 to arrive over the weekend.

Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the decision to let in large numbers of refugees, saying she was "convinced it was right".

However, she faces growing criticism from her political allies, including the premier of the state of Bavaria, who told Der Spiegel magazine (in German) the situation would soon be beyond control.

Around 4,000 troops are being deployed in Germany for logistical support.

Support and opposition

In London, tens of thousands of people, some carrying placards that read "Open the Borders" and "Refugees In" marched towards the prime ministerial residence in Downing Street.

There were similar demonstrations in other UK cities.

The British government has said it will take up to 20,000 refugees over five years, but from camps in the Middle East rather than people arriving in Europe.

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Image caption Sweden is where many refugees say they want to seek asylum

In the Swedish capital Stockholm, about 1,000 people appealed for more generous support for refugees.

"Sweden can do much more, not only because it has the capacity to do so, but also because it, along with the European Union, bears some responsibility for the conflict in Syria," said demonstrator Joakim, 38, who took part with his two children.

An estimated 30,000 people rallied gathered outside parliament in the Danish capital Copenhagen, chanting "Say it loud and say it clear, refugees are welcome here".

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Image caption In the Dutch city of The Hague, people joined a silent rally

Mohammed Harra, who was born in Morocco, told Denmark's Politiken newspaper: "I am here to support refugees who have been driven out of their houses because of what has happened in Syria, with the bombings and the killings."

In other events:

  • in Hamburg, a demonstration by the far-right was banned earlier this week but the main railway station was closed on Saturday after left-wing demonstrators attacked a train believed to be carrying neo-Nazis
  • a counter-rally took place in the city centre
  • other rallies were held in France, Austria, the Netherlands and Australia
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Thousands turned out in Sydney in support of refugees
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Image caption Pro-refugee marchers rallied at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Radical right-wingers joined the anti-migrant march in Poland

Rallies against welcoming more refugees and migrants took place in some eastern European countries.

About 5,000 people chanting anti-Islamic slogans marched in the Polish capital Warsaw, while a nearby counter-demonstration drew about 1,000 people.

In Prague, about 800 protesters carried banners reading "I do not want refugees and Islam in Czech Republic" and "Protect the borders".

Elsewhere in the city, a smaller counter-demonstration in support of refugees attracted about 200 people, witnesses said.

Another anti-migrant rally attended by about 1,500 people took place in the Slovak capital Bratislava.

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Image caption Protesters at an anti-refugee rally in Bratislava made their feelings clear

Tens of thousands of mainly Syrian migrants have been making their way from Turkey, through the Balkans and Hungary to reach Austria, Germany and Sweden.

Migrants have continued to arrive in Macedonia from Greece. More buses were reported to be heading towards the Hungarian border.

On the scene: James Reynolds, BBC News, Roszke, southern Hungary

Image copyright Reuters

Next to a set of old railway tracks, a long line of migrants and refugees queues for buses to take them to nearby registration camps, which I have not been able to visit.

A police officer calls families forward one by one. "Syria? Afghanistan? Pakistan?" the officer asks in English.

He notes their reply on a piece of paper and lets them board.

A translator stands by to help. At one point, she picks up a rake and clears rubbish from the road in front of the bus.

By contrast to the chaos and panic I witnessed at the same place on Friday night, the atmosphere is calm. The police are courteous and organised.

Volunteers walk along the line handing out sandwiches and bottles of water. The refugee families wait patiently in the sun.

Follow James on Twitter

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Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter appealed urgently for other German regions to do more to process and accommodate the new arrivals.

He described as "scandalous" the failure of other regions to provide more accommodation, according to state broadcaster ARD.

Reports suggest the government is considering new temporary powers to take control of unoccupied rental property to accommodate migrants.

The crisis has exposed deep divisions within the European Union. The European Commission announced plans for obligatory quotas to share out 120,000 additional asylum seekers among 25 member countries.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia oppose being forced to take in new arrivals.

Hungary, which has struggled to cope with some 150,000 migrants who have crossed its borders so far this year, has faced criticism.

The Austrian chancellor said Hungary's treatment of migrants reminded him of the darkest days of Europe's history - an apparent allusion to the Nazis.

The Hungarian government spokesman said Werner Faymann had run amok.

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.