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Saturday 5 September 2015

Solidarity with Refugees – March in London 12th September

Please show solidarity with refugees on Saturday 12th September.

In London we will be assembling at Marble Arch at 12 noon, and then marching to Downing Street.

Facebook event page.

Twitter: @solidarity_2015

Demonstration in London on 12 September to show Solidarity with Refugees

A grassroots internet-based campaign to show Solidarity with Refugees has galvanized the British public to call for greater moral leadership by the UK and the EU ahead of emergency talks on 14th September. Over eighty thousand people have signed up to demonstrate in London on Saturday 12 September, beginning with a march from Marble Arch, culminating in a rally at Downing Street.

Supported by Syria Solidarity Movement, the Refugee Council, Refugee Action and Amnesty International.

The world is facing the biggest refugee crisis since WWII. 60 million people have been uprooted, and thousands of people are dying in increasingly desperate attempts to reach European mainland. Suffocating in lorries, drowning in the Mediterranean - the horrific images we are seeing daily are testament to a profound failure of political and moral leadership.

The European Union has announced emergency talks on 14 September to deal with the escalating crisis. Solidarity with Refugees is providing an outlet for the voice of British public who want to ensure that our moral obligations, and not political expediency are put front and centre of the talks. When Theresa May, UK Home Secretary, attends the talks she must be able to carry a loud and clear message: instead of reinforcing a fortress, we need to be providing sanctuary, and we must stop failing humanity.

The number of migrants to have arrived so far this year (200,000) is so minuscule that it constitutes just 0.03% of Europe’s total population of 740 million. By comparison, Lebanon has taken in 1.1 million Syrian refugees, which amounts to 26% of the population.

Germany has registered 44,417 asylum applications from Syrians in the first seven months of this year alone. So far, the UK has legally welcomed only 187 Syrians. Britain’s Refugee Council, using figures from the UN, says that the number of refugees in the UK has actually fallen in the last 4 years from 193,600 to 117,161.

The response must no longer be a national and regional embarrassment. We can help many, many more people than we are currently helping. We can and should do more.

Since Solidarity with Refugees was launched, there has been a growing consensus across civil society and experts about how to tackle the crisis in a more humane way. We want to make sure that these points are front and centre of the crisis debates on 14th September.

Specifically, the crisis talks must ensure a focus on:

  • Providing safe and legal routes and transportation into Europe for asylum seekers, reducing the potential for exploitation by traffickers and smugglers.
  • Supporting efficient and humane processing of applications in the EU, especially in Greece and Italy, while housing and caring for refugees in ways that provide security and maintain dignity.
  • Expanding resettlement regionally – so all EU countries should follow the stance of Germany, and help to ease the pressure on Greece and Italy. The UK in particular should be doing more to help find a place of safety for those who need it.
  • Strengthening search and rescue efforts - to deal with the growing humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean, focusing on saving lives not policing borders.
  • Ending punitive policy regimes that make it harder to claim asylum rights – including EU directives that place travel restrictions on refugees in contravention of the Geneva convention.

We call on Theresa May to take this message to the EU talks on 14 September: we want to help people to reach Europe safely, we want to welcome more refugees in the UK, we have the means, and we have the methods.


“The current global refugee crisis has, to date, numbed public and political opinion. The general feeling has been that the situation is hopeless and people don’t want to hear about it. In the face of this numbness, I have been calling for a change in the narrative, for a way of creating hope, for showing we can help. When we look back, I very much hope that we will see this summer as the point that the narrative changed. And what is especially heartening is that citizen action and grassroots campaigns have been in the vanguard of this change. I wholeheartedly support the Solidarity with Refugees event in London on 12 September and call on leaders in the UK and EU to listen together, to think together, and to act together in the best interests of humanity.”

Jan Egeland, Secretary General, Norwegian Refugee Council, and former Under-Secretary-General, United Nations.

“The EU’s migrant crisis is not going to be resolved by razor wire in Hungary, by xenophobes bent on creating a moral panic or by European leaders who turn their backs on refugees. The time has come for citizens to draw a line in the sand and demand action. We need to send a clear signal to political leaders across Europe, including those in the UK. As a nation, we are not doing enough. But the groundswell of support among the British people has been remarkable. They are sending a simple message: Britain cares. We must now amplify that message. The Solidarity with Refugees march, organised on the internet as a grassroots campaign, is more than just another demonstration. It is a public mobilisation in defence of our shared humanity and our shared values. I am proud to give it my support.”

Kevin Watkins, Executive Director, Overseas Development Institute.