More than 80,000 expected to show solidarity with refugees this weekend

Public pressure on Cameron is intensifying

 

More than 80,000 people are expected to take part in a demonstration this weekend, to show their solidarity with refugees and call on David Cameron to accept the UK’s fair share of refugees.

Kate Allen, the director of Amnesty International UK who will be addressing the marchers in central London, said:

“This is a critical moment ahead of the EU leaders meeting on Monday to make our voices heard loud and clear.

“Join us on the march to tell the government that the UK can and must do better. If we are to play our part in turning this crisis around, the home secretary must go to the EU meeting on Monday and sign up to a comprehensive, pan-European response that includes taking in the UK’s fair share of refugees already in Europe, saving lives at sea, tackling people smuggling and helping to resolve the conflicts and crises that are forcing people to flee.”

Other scheduled speakers include Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, and representatives of refugee organisations and other NGOs.

More than 1.4 million people have signed a petition calling on Cameron to take in more people fleeing conflict in countries like Libya and Afghanistan as well as Syria. Cameron’s current pledge, to accept 20,000 refugees over five years, has been described as inadequate by European leaders as well as Westminster MPs including Caroline Lucas and Yvette Cooper.

Originally Cameron had insisted that Britain was doing enough and that ‘taking more and more refugees’ was not the answer to the escalating crisis. But he made a major U-turn following the outpouring of public pressure sparked by the images of Aylan Kurdi.

This crisis must not just be about that little boy on the beach. We must all be vigilant against a media rhetoric which treats one refugee as a tragedy and 1,000 as a swarm, which sees Syrian children as victims and Syrian adults as chancers.

As well as Saturday’s demonstration, there are a number of grassroots initiatives offering support to refugees, including one to raise funds for a rescue boat, and collection points around the country where people can donate practical items for those stranded in camps at Calais.

Details of the march on Saturday 12 September are as follows:

12.00-13.00: Rally in Achilles Way, Park Lane, London, W1K 1AB

13.00: The march sets off, following the southbound carriageway of Park Lane, towards Parliament Square

14.00 – 14.45: Music in Parliament Square

15.00 – 16.00: Rally in Parliament Square. 

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward

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