Thousands of protesters marched to demand the British Government takes in more refugees as thousands of men, women and children continue to drown in desperate attempts to reach Europe. Marchers chanted “refugees are welcome here” and waved banners reading “no-one is illegal", “let’s help people” and "stop the drowning". The crowd heard from refugees who have made the dangerous journey from their countries, and those who have lived in the camps. The march was supported by charities and groups including the Red Cross, Asylum Aid, Save the Children, Hope Not Hate, Oxfam and the UN Refugee Agency.
Ros Ereira, director of the Solidarity with Refugees group, who organised the event, told the Independent she was "blown away" by how many people had come to lend their support. "We want to send a message that Britain must do more to lead the way in a global response, to provide safe passage into Europe and the UK, to help people when they arrive so asylum seekers aren’t left on the streets or locked in detention centres."
Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, described the Government’s contribution to tackling the refugee crisis as “shocking[A1] [A2] [A3] …Many of those seeking sanctuary have seen their families torn apart and homes destroyed.…” She said “This march is to show that ordinary people in Britain actually care deeply about refugees”.
In Hungary a referendum championed by prime minister Viktor Orbán is whipping up xenophobic sentiment. The anti-refugee campaign is already spreading hate. His critics contend that he is using groundless fear to bolster his position at a time when Hungary is grappling with concerns from rampant graft to failing public services. Four in five young Hungarians think the state is riddled with corruption, and more than half have encountered it themselves. The country comes 50th in Transparency International’s ranking of corruption worldwide, and the state has been taking power away from anti-corruption bodies. “They don’t want people to speak about problems like corruption, and healthcare, they want people to talk about the nonexistent migrants,” said Gergely Kovács of activist group Two-Tailed Dog, a party originally launched as political satire that put pooches up as candidates, with manifestos promising free beer and eternal life to mock empty promises. “I’ve never seen so much hate in this country before,” said Kovács. “They have brought evil out and that’s why we felt we should do something.”
There is also a more serious campaign to persuade voters to spoil their ballots, a way that victory will be undermined is if turnout fails to meet the relatively high threshold needed for it to be legally binding.
Immigration offers more opportunity to Hungary than its government will admit, because it has developed a labour crisis more or less in parallel with Europe’s refugee crisis. With hundreds of thousands of young people heading west, there is a huge shortage of workers. András Kováts, of charity Menedék, which has been working with refugees for more than 20 years, says that for the first time there are no problems finding jobs for new arrivals. “This is not about moral obligations, businesses need workers.”