OVER 2,500 lifejackets were placed on the lawn outside parliament, in Parliament Square yesterday, each representing the life of a refugee man, woman or child who braved the dangerous Mediterranean sea fleeing from the horror of war.
More than 7,000 refugees have drowned in the sea while trying to reach either Greece or Italy since the start of this year, an increase of some 50 per cent on the same period in 2015.
Joe Murphy, who helped set up the Parliament Square display told News Line: ‘Each one of these jackets represents a human life. We brought all these lifejackets from Kent this morning and they will be here until this evening.
‘The thousands of lifejackets you see here have come from Greece and have been used by refugees.’ The demonstration was planned to coincide with UN summit in New York on the refugee crisis.
Tory PM Theresa May addressed the summit, launching a fresh war on refugees, calling for a clear distinction to be made between refugees and ‘economic migrants’. She went on to demand that refugees must claim asylum in the first country they reach, adding for good measure that nations ‘have a right to control their borders.’
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said: ‘Theresa May’s comments on refugees are a disappointing demonstration of Britain turning its back on the humanitarian crisis currently facing the world.
‘Her comments show a complete disregard for the reality facing refugees fleeing for their lives and trying to find safety in Europe. Despite daily evidence of violence and warfare killing civilians, she implies that people coming to Europe are not seeking safety but rather are economic migrants.’
Saira Grant, Chief Executive, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: ‘The UK received only 3% of Europe’s asylum claims, itself a tiny number compared to refugees hosted in the poorest regions of the world. We are nowhere near meeting our targets even for resettling the 20,000 refugees we have promised.
‘Unravelling the Mediterranean Migration Crisis’ (MEDMIG) project, a report whose findings will be presented at the UN summit today, identifies the reasons why refugees have fled from their homes to make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. Researchers interviewed 500 refugees about their experiences.
Their results of the study highlight:
• Eighty-eight per cent of those arriving in Greece via the Eastern Mediterranean route said that they left their homes because of persecution, violence, death threats or human rights abuse.
• Of this group, more than a quarter said the ‘Islamic State’ group (IS) played a significant part in their decision to leave, with many being detained, tortured or forced to watch beheadings.
• Sixty-six per cent of those arriving in Italy mentioned factors that could be described as ‘forced migration’ including violence, death threats and religious persecution.
• Those from West and East Africa most commonly left because of the threat posed by militia groups and terrorist organisations or indefinite forced conscription in Eritrea.
• Over 75 per cent of those who crossed via Libya experienced physical violence, and over a quarter spoke of experiences related to the death of fellow travellers.