'Meant to live, not to die': Protesters worldwide gather to condemn war in Ukraine

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By Rebekah Daunt
'Meant to live, not to die': Protesters worldwide gather to condemn war in Ukraine
Copyright  Alvaro Barrientos/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Dozens of protesters flocked to Times Square on Saturday, condemning Russia's assault on Ukraine.

Bracing New York City's freezing temperatures, Ukrainian citizens demanded world leaders to "close the sky" following Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyys' repeated calls for a no-fly zone.

"Our fellow Ukrainians, they are suffering from those missile strikes and the aeroplanes flying over our cities and killing innocent people, bombing a maternity house," said Igor Ubay from the western city of Lviv.

"We just want that to be stopped and we want people to live because every human being is meant to live, not to die. And we are just asking for a little bit of support closing those skies."

Meanwhile, Israel's controversial refugee policy, which has capped the number of non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees allowed to stay in the country, has sparked outrage. 

Hundreds of people gathered in central Tel Aviv, calling for the quota to be scraped and for an end to the war.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked took to Facebook on Friday to defend her policy.

"Contrary to criticism, the vast majority of those who came to Israel were allowed to enter and stay here until the [war] passes," she wrote.

However, some protesters in Israel say that the country could do more to help people escape the war.

"I think the world is not doing enough to help Ukraine. Russia is a big powerful country with a very big army, and I think Ukraine needs much more help, and I think including troops perhaps and also military help," said Saroj Elam, who joined the demonstrations on Saturday.

Moving north, police say some 4000 demonstrators took to the streets of Helsinki in a show of solidarity for Ukraine.

Hundreds of Russians are crossing into Finland by the day on one of the few remaining routes out of the country in a bid to escape economic sanctions and political uncertainty.

Thousands of antiwar demonstrators have been arrested in Moscow and St. Petersburg since Russia invaded its neighbour more than three weeks ago.

In Madrid, dozens of Russians gathered in front of the Russian embassy to rally against the Putin regime and denounce the invasion.