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Thousands of life jackets appear outside Parliament to remind MPs they are failing drowning refugees

'650 of these life jackets were used by children, you can still see the Disney stickers on some of them'

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Monday 19 September 2016 19:26 BST
Migrant crisis lifejacket graveyard in Westminster

London’s Parliament Square has been covered in a "graveyard of life jackets" to raise awareness of the thousands of refugees who die at sea.

Campaigners from International Rescue Committee (IRC) laid out 2,500 used life jackets overnight to coincide with the United Nations Migration Summit that started on Monday in New York.

The life jackets were worn by refugee children and adults crossing from Turkey to the Greek island of Chios, before being abandoned in a warehouse on the Greek island of Lesbos.

IRC hopes the display will put pressure on international governments to do more to tackle the crisis.

Sanj Srikanthan, the IRC’s director of policy and practice, said: “This is meant to represent just some of the people who have died crossing the Mediterranean - refugees fleeing conflict just trying to get to safety.

“650 of these life jackets were used by children, you can still see the Disney stickers on some of them.

“Most of them are provided by smugglers, they are not safety checked, some of them absorb water, they become like an anchor if you fall in the water, especially for a child.

“So, today is meant to represent the tragedy of the modern refugee.”

The charity hopes its efforts will help raise awareness of the crisis and encourage developed countries such as the UK and the US to resettle more of the most vulnerable refugees.

They are also calling for better, more durable aid solutions in affected countries, including increased investment in healthcare and education.

Mr Srikanthan also stressed the importance of finding solutions to the world conflicts driving the migration of people.

He said: “If world leaders put their minds to it they could almost half the number of refugees displaced.

“We’re trying to advocate for global solutions.”

The International Organisation for Migration is expecting the toll of migrant deaths at sea to rise to 10,000 by the end of the year.

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