Refugees Welcome protest attended by thousands in the capital


Thousands of people have taken to the streets of London chanting "refugees are welcome here" in a bid to urge the Government to take more action on the migrant crisis.

Organised by Solidarity with Refugees, groups such as Amnesty International, Oxfam, Medecins Sans Frontieres, the Refugee Council and Stop the War Coalition joined forces for the Refugees Welcome demonstration.

On Monday, the UN Summit for refugees and migrants hosted by Barack Obama will be held in New York and is set to be attended by Prime Minister Theresa May.

The capital's Park Lane came alive with a sea of colourful placards carrying slogans such as "no-one is illegal", "stop the drowning","choose love" and "be human", as protesters began the procession.

In a nod to the imminent summit, they chanted: "Theresa May, you will say refugees are welcome here."

And a number of people also took to Twitter to share their pictures of the march, and some passionate placards.

Solidarity with Refugees director Ros Ereira said "so far" she thinks there has been a lack of leadership over taking action on the issue.

Speaking to the Press Association, she said: "This week is going to be Theresa May's first opportunity as our Prime Minister to represent us at a global summit.

"I really hope she is going to set the tone for what kind of a country we can be post Brexit and with her new leadership.

"Hopefully she will want to portray us as an open, tolerant, welcoming society that wants to play an important role on the global stage and lead an appropriate global humanitarian response."

Theresa May
(Tim Ireland/AP)

According to the UN's refugee agency, more than 3,200 people have died or gone missing attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year.

Figures show a total of almost 300,000 people have attempted the journey and thousands remain stranded in Greece and Italy in poor living conditions.

The Government agreed to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020 after last year's rally. But Ereira said progress since then has been much too slow.

"We were really excited to hear the agreement was made we would be settling 20,000 over five years," she said.

syrian refugees
A Syrian woman at Ritsona refugee camp north of Athens, which hosts about 600 refugees and migrants (Petros Giannakouris/AP)

"Obviously I was always going to wish it would be more and better than that - but it was a huge step in the right direction.

"We are not on track to be meeting that commitment at the moment and of course we need to be doing more.

"The situation is growing, it is not decreasing - it is not going away and there are people dying and we need to stop that happening."