Thousands of life jackets laid out on Parliament Square to commemorate refugee deaths

Theresa May will call for controls on migration at a refugee summit in New York today

Image: IRCUK

2,500 life jackets have been laid out on Parliament Square, commemorating the thousands of people who have died on their way to Europe.

Created by the International Rescue Committee, the installation is made up of life jackets gathered in Greece, having been worn by migrants crossing the Aegean. It marks the beginning of major migration summit at the UN general assembly in New York, where Theresa May is scheduled to speak this afternoon.

Although the summit is designed to encourage cooperation between nations, May’s comments will focus on the responsibilities of individual states. She will call for countries to have control of their own borders and a responisibility to control migration flows, as well as insisting that migrants be helped to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach.

It is not clear how the main countries of first arrival, such as Italy and Greece, are expected to cope with the huge inflows of people without international support and solidarity.

Additionally, May will call for a clearer distinction between refugees and economic migrants, a topic she regularly addressed as home secretary.

The prime minister has already been criticised for her expected comments. David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee says that rather than promoting its current approach, the UK should commit to taking in 20,000 or 25,000 new refugees a year — quadrupling the current commitment.

Mike Noyes, the head of humanitarian response at ActionAid, pointed out that ‘this year alone, almost 300,000 refugees have risked their lives crossing the sea and hundreds of thousands have taken arduous journeys by land.’

“The UK’s current pledge to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees is not enough and ignores the plight of those who have already arrived in Europe. Today in New York, the Prime Minister must commit to resettling a greater number of refugees, helping reunite families who have been torn apart by disaster, and take a leading role in developing a humane, coordinated and fair responsibility-sharing mechanism for refugees.”

A second life jacket installation has been created by the International Rescue Committee near the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

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