The refugee protests in 120 cities you probably didn't hear about

'This is a clear sign that people all over Europe are sick of the inhumane treatment of our fellow human beings'

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The Independent Online

Protests in 32 countries and more than 120 cities took place on Saturday to highlight the lack of rights and protection for refugees seeking asylum in Europe and elsewhere.

The demonstrations received little media attention, even though they held in countries including Germany, Greece, France and Scandinavian as well as several eastern European countries.

There were also marches in New York, Vancouver, Tel Aviv and three Turkish cities.

In London, a march of several hundred demonstrators was partially overshadowed by the largest anti-nuclear weapons demonstration for a generation, as Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon, Vanessa Redgrave and others addressed a crowd of thousands in Trafalgar Square.

However, the refugee march linked up with the anti-Trident protest. Many of the speakers at the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament rally emphasised that the £167 billion cost of a new nuclear deterrent system to replace the Trident missile system could be better spent elsewhere – for example, in providing humanitarian relief for refugees.

The protestors met to drop a banner off Westminster Bridge calling for "safe passage for refugees". They then marched from Hyde Park Corner to Marble Arch, where they heard speeches before joining thousands of marchers for the CND rally. 

Abdulaziz Amashi, the co-founder of Syria Solidarity Campaign & Solidarity with Refugees, said: "Refugees must be made welcome in the UK, yet our government is wasting money on nuclear weapons. Refugees are desperate people who are desperately looking for somewhere safe to live."

​"20,000 refugees over five years is not a response. Britain is a great nation, and we can do more. We should not just be relying on Germany. If Britain, France and other European nations took their fare share of asylum-seekers then we wouldn't be having a refugee crisis." 

Lisette Zewuster, a member of Bienvenidos Refugiados España, one of the organisations which co-ordinated the Europe-wide demonstrations, said: “All over Europe and even outside Europe there are hundreds of organizations formed by people whose only interest is to defend human rights and values. They are doing what most European governments refuse to do, and helping refugees."

Ms Zewuster added that "numerous volunteers, associations and NGOs in more than 120 cities" contacted BRE and fellow co-ordinators Coragem Disponivel once the campaign was launched, as the campaign rapidly expanded across Europe and beyond.

"This is a clear sign that people all over Europe are sick of the inhumane treatment of our fellow human beings," she said. "Many of these people had no history of activism, but they feel that the situation is so urgent right now that they had no option but to take to the streets."