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Thousands march through London for refugees

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Thousands march through London for refugees

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Thousands of people have taken to the streets of London to vent their frustration with the UK government over its handling of the refugee crisis.

Holding placards and chanting songs welcoming refugees, demonstrators called on the authorities to live up to a pledge made by former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015.

That year, Cameron vowed to take in up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years.











What is the current situation?



In August, the UK Home Affairs committee said recent figures suggested Britain was unlikely to meet its own target of resettling 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.

It said maintaining an agreement with France for British border checks at French channel ports should be a priority for the British government.

One third of England’s local authorities are not prepared to house any Syrian refugees due to years of swingeing austerity cuts, according to media reports from July.

The UK’s National Audit Office (NAO) has warned the promised resettlement programme may be at risk because of difficulties finding sufficient accommodation and school places.

The NAO says guarantees are needed to meet the 20,000 resettlement goal by 2020.

Read the NAO report here

Local councils have only committed to providing accommodation for 8,000 Syrian refugees so far.

53 of the country’s local authorities have not offered to take any in, according to the Local Government Chronicle.

Official data shows that more than 1,800 Syrian refugees have been housed in Britain since last September under a government scheme to resettle some of the most vulnerable refugees living in camps in countries in bordering Syria.



“Repeated pressure”



Britain, like other Western countries, has come under repeated pressure to take in more Syrian refugees.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has admitted it is battling widespread fear and political wrangling to rehouse them.

More than 4.8 million Syrian refugees have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt to escape the conflict in the country.

More than 250,000 people have been killed since it broke out in 2011. More than 13.5 million are in urgent need of aid.



What they are saying



“It is a crisis of huge proportions and we don’t think the political action is being taken to address that crisis, so we want to see more action from the UK government. They made a commitment to rehouse 20,000 refugees. We think they have only done 2,500 of that so far, we think that is too little,” – protester Eve Watkinson.

“The war in Syria is raging tragically as intensely as ever and whether people are from Syria or from any other country, they need that opportunity to rebuild their lives in safety and Britain should welcome more refugees,” – Stephen Hale, Refugee Action.

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