Thousands march in support of refugees in London

Thousands march in support of refugees in London
Thousands pro-refugee demonstrators took to the streets of London on Saturday to call on Prime Minister Theresa May to do more to help tackle the refugee crisis.
2 min read
18 September, 2016
Protesters marched down the affluent Park Lane and the central thoroughfare Piccadilly [AFP]
Thousands of people, including celebrities and lawmakers, took part in a London demonstration on Saturday calling on the British government to do more to help resolve the refugee crisis.

Groups including Amnesty International, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, the Refugee Council and Stop the War Coalition took part in the Refugees Welcome demonstration organised by Solidarity with Refugees.

Organisers said they hope Prime Minister Theresa May will "lead an appropriate humanitarian response" to the crisis at the UN summit for refugees in New York next week.

Protesters marched down the affluent Park Lane and the central thoroughfare Piccadilly, carrying an array of colourful placards and chanting slogans including "say it loud, say it clear: refugees are welcome here!"

Some carried signs reading "no-one is illegal," "stop the drowning," while others chanted "refugees let them stay…Let’s deport Theresa May!"

At the rally, actor and campaigner Vanessa Redgrave said "The present government and previous governments, both Labour, coalition and Conservative, have been breaking international human rights law. We must hold them to account."

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Protester Bathoul Ahmed, 28, told The New Arab: "I came today because I felt the direction we are heading towards in the UK is very dangerous. The Rhetoric is increasingly xenophobic, both from some politicians and the media."

"There is a great deal of misinformation and fear mongering relating to the refugees, which is sadly working because a lot of people believe what they are reading and hearing," Ahmed said.

"So I wanted to make sure that I do my part in ensuring that doesn't win and to show that actually there is a lot of support for refugees and the British public is not racist."

Volunteer worker Felicity Rose, 33, said the message was "to look after our brothers and sisters from round the world and let them come and to stop penalising them because of where they come from and the colour of their skin."

Last year, Britian's then prime minister David Cameron announced that the UK will accept up to 20,000 refugees from Syria over the next five years.

A recent UN annual report for World Refugee Day revealed that the number of refugees has for the first time passed 60 million - more than half of them coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Agencies contributed to this report.