Refugees Welcome campaign: Leading politicians and tens of thousands back The Independent's campaign - so when will David Cameron act?

Images of dead Syrian child Aylan Kurdi spark outcry over UK's treatment of people fleeing war-torn countries

Matt Dathan,Heather Saul
Thursday 03 September 2015 12:59
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A young Syrian boy, who drowned in his family’s attempt to reach Greece from Turkey, lies in the surf near Bodrum, Turkey
A young Syrian boy, who drowned in his family’s attempt to reach Greece from Turkey, lies in the surf near Bodrum, Turkey

Political leaders across the spectrum are backing The Independent's campaign demanding David Cameron do more to help refugees - as tens of thousands signed our petition after the publication of images of dead Syrian child Aylan Kurdi.

Former Conservative Cabinet minister Baroness Warsi has joined a number of prominent figures telling the Prime Minister he "can do more", in the wake of the powerful images' emergence.

Harriet Harman, Labour's acting leader, has written to the Mr Cameron demanding he “stop dragging his feet” and calling on him to hold an urgent meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee.

She is also urging him to demand an summit of EU leaders to work out a response to the growing humanitarian crisis that is overflowing into Europe.

"It is high time Britain starting living up to its international responsibilities and proud tradition of helping those who need it most," a Labour party source told The Independent.

Leading figures from Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the Green party demanded the Government take immediate action and abandon its stubborn refusal to take in more than just a few hundred Syrian refugees.

A Syrian family fleeing their war-torn country, just some of four million Syrians who have fled since civil war broke out in 2011

After sending the photographs of Aylan Kurdi to the Prime Minister, Downing Street responded by telling The Independent that Britain is already doing enough to help refugees.

The Independent chose to publish the image of the toddler in an effort to highlight the scale of suffering and death endured by millions of desperate men, women and children risking their lives to flee war torn countries.

The accompanying petition urges the Government to stop relying on the Dublin regulation as an excuse not to take in Britain’s fair share of refugees.

It has already received more than 30,000 signatures and has been backed by leading voices in British politics, including Nicola Sturgeon, Jeremy Corbyn, David Miliband, Labour Mayoral candidates Tessa Jowell and Sadiq Khan and Green MP Caroline Lucas.

The Prime Minister has previously been criticised for describing refugees coming to the UK as a “swarm”, and later said he would not “allow people to break into our country”. Philip Hammond echoed this rhetoric by accusing refugees of “marauding” around Calais.

This is how you can get involved and join thousands of people, including a number of celebrities, in forcing Mr Cameron to reevaluate the Government’s position and stop more children and adults washing up on Europe’s shores:

In addition to Ms Harman writing to Mr Cameron, Labour MEP Glenys Wilmott is writing to the President of the European Parliament demanding an urgent debate to be held next week.

And Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, will hold a conference early next week, bringing together local authorities, the voluntary sector and faith groups to see what can urgently be done.

A Labour party source told The Independent: “David Cameron must now stop dragging his feet. It is high time Britain starting living up to its international responsibilities and proud tradition of helping those who need it most.”

"It should remind us of the situation facing millions of people desperately fleeing a terrible civil war.”

Read more about the petition to welcome refugees into the UK here.

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