In Digest

New Cold, Sept 1, 2015

Rally in Vienna, Austria on Aug 31, 2015 (AFP)

Rally in Vienna, Austria on Aug 31, 2015 (AFP)

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Vienna, Austria on August 31 demanding that the Austrian government take measures to welcome and care for refugees and immigrants fleeing war, poverty and environmental devastation in the Middle East, southwest Asia and Africa.

The protest was sparked by the horrific news last week of the deaths of 71 refugees packed into a truck that was transiting through Austria.

The Vienna protest began at the Westbahnhof train station where a trainload of refugees was expected. Marchers held large banners reading ‘Refugees welcome’ and ‘I don’t want Europe to be a mass grave’.

AFP reports:

Europe is on the receiving end of the biggest movement of people since World War II, with more than 300,000 arriving this year, many fleeing war, persecution and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

The escalating crisis has divided the 28-member European Union bloc ahead of fresh emergency talks on Sept 14, with Western European leaders calling for more efforts to help the new arrivals while countries on its eastern borders say they are struggling to cope.

European Union officials and member countries are responding to the growing refugee crisis by saying they will find better ways to block and criminalize the movement of refugees. There was chaos at Calais, France recently as refugees sought to use the tunnel under the English Channel to get to Britain. The UK government wants to build barbed wire fences to keep them out of the tunnel.

CBC Radio in Canada as well as The Guardian report that residents of Iceland are condemning their government for saying it would allow only a miserly 50 refugees from Syria to settle there. The people say they are organizing to welcome and care for many more such refugees and they want the government to accept and facilitate their plans.

The Guardian reports further:

Over the weekend, German football fans held up signs at matches welcoming those fleeing persecution, and the German tabloid Bild, not renowned for its liberal attitudes towards immigration, has taken up the cause. Martin Patzelt, an MP from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party, has temporarily housed two Eritrean refugees in his home in Brandenburg.

Canada and the United States are an ocean away from the crisis in the Middle East and Africa, but each have tightened their borders in recent years. And of course, their pursuit of war in the two regions, including their backing of Israel’s wars against the Palestinian people, is precisely one of the root causes of the crisis. Canada’s harshening refugee policies are sharply criticized in a commentary published today in the daily Vancouver Sun and authored by Harsha Walia of the rights group No One Is Illegal.

Read also:
More than 11,000 Icelanders have offered to house, care for Syrian refugees, The Independent (UK), Sept 1, 2015




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