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People rally across Europe in support of asylum seekers

6 September 2015 10:42

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People have taken to the streets in several European cities to show their solidarity with thousands of asylum seekers who have come to the continent after fleeing their violence-stricken homelands.

On Saturday, people staged a rally in support of asylum seekers at the Place de la Republique in the French capital city of Paris, calling on European leaders to take in more refugees.

Similar demonstrations were also held in the German cities of Wurzburg and Wuppertal, where protesters condemned xenophobic attacks against asylum seekers in Europe.

This is while a pro-refugee rally turned violent in the Swiss city of Zurich after riot police fired rubber bullets to disperse the protesters. The demonstrators said the European leaders have not done enough to alleviate the plight of the asylum seekers.

Meanwhile, the United Nations hailed the support of the European public for the asylum seekers, saying it has driven some countries in the continent to change or modify their stance on the worsening refugee crisis.

“All over Europe, [we are] witnessing a remarkable outpouring of public response, including from faith-based organizations, NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and individuals, in many cases driving governments to change policies and rhetoric,” read a statement issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The body stressed that it is not possible to tackle the issue without a “massive common effort,” adding, “There is clearly an urgent need to put in place an emergency plan to manage the refugee crisis.”

The UNHCR also hailed the recent decision by Germany and Austria to accept the refugees who had been stuck in Hungary for days, saying, “This is political leadership based on humanitarian values.”

Over the past two days, thousands of asylum seekers left Hungary for the adjacent countries of Austria and Germany after Berlin and Vienna officials voiced their readiness to receive them.

The United Nations estimates 300,000 people have left the Middle East and Africa for Europe this year, but 2,500 have died in the attempt, the majority during dangerous voyages across the Mediterranean in rickety boats.

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