‘WELCOME refugees’ was the cry as some 200 people demonstrated outside Leamington Town Hall at the weekend.
The peaceful protest called on Warwick District Council and the British government to do more to welcome the refugees desperately trying to escape war and persecution in Syria.
One of the organisers, Anna Pollert, Chair of the South Warwickshire Keep our NHS Public campaign group, said: “We gathered to send a message to the government that its current policy towards the refugee crisis is shamefully mean.
“After a public outcry at Britain’s deplorable response to the refugee crisis, David Cameron has offered to accept only 20,000 refugees over five years. This equates to under ten people per council per year – and that’s limited to people from existing refugee camps in Syria and its neighbours.
“It excludes those who have managed to reach Europe. By contrast, Germany expects to receive 800,000 refugees by the end of the year. Our fellow human beings are in dire need of help now. That’s why we’re calling for local action.”
Similar protests took place across the country, including a march in London, which was attended by tens of thousands of people.
Ben Wesson, former member of Warwickshire’s Youth Parliament, said: “It was heartening to see a strong sense of solidarity for the refugees.
“We are witnessing the worst humanitarian crisis to reach European shores since the Second World War. People are rightly shocked and appalled at the distressing images of young children drowning as their families make the dangerous journey across water from Syria to mainland Europe.
“Locally, we must do our bit to support the refugees. As well as continuing with our collection and fundraising, we want to see Warwick District Council co-ordinate local support and provide empty council houses to provide sanctuary for 50 refugee families.”
During the demonstration over £600 was collected to support aid efforts – £250 for the Leamington Aid to Refugees and Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre, and £392 for Doctors of the World.
A petition has also been launched – you.38degrees.org.uk and search refugees-welcome-in-warwick-district – which will be submitted to the district council.
* Collections are also taking place locally. The current list of requirements includes tents (even broken/incomplete),
sleeping bags/blankets, men’s clothing (not women’s), small/lightweight toys, bin bags and baby wipes.
Donations can be left at the Mashed Swedes Café, 39 Russell Street, Leamington, CV32 5QB.