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Signs That Europe’s Heart May Be Softening on Migrants and Refugees

AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK

Hungarian police officers face a group of Syrian migrants on the platform of the Kobanya-Kispest station, Budapest suburb, on September 2, 2015, as the refugees refused to board a train to the Debrecen camp. Hungarian authorities face mounting anger from thousands of migrants who are unable to board trains to western European countries after the main Budapest station was closed. AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK

John Burger - published on 09/04/15

UK Prime Minister Cameron seen to change tone after photo of drowned boy circulates on social media

German Catholics may be opening their churches to the thousands of migrants and refugees entering Europe from Africa and the Near East.

The German Bishops’ Conference migration commission has published a brief document on the tradition of granting sanctuary to those who have sought refuge in churches, Catholic Culture reported.

Noting that seeking sanctuary (or asylum) in churches is an ancient tradition, the commission said that decisions should be made at the local level and that sanctuary should be granted “only as a last resort for the prevention of imminent human rights violations.”

The commission also stated that to its knowledge, German parishes and religious communities are currently sheltering 454 refugees.

Meanwhile, the plight of refugees from places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and parts of Africa have inspired some 10,000 Icelanders to pledge to open their homes to people escaping the Syrian civil war, should they be allowed into the Nordic nation, The Telegraph reported.

That’s been the response to a Facebook campaign launched by prominent author Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir after the government said it would take in only 50 humanitarian refugees from Syria. Iceland’s population is 300,000.

“I think people have had enough of seeing news stories from the Mediterranean and refugee camps of dying people and they want something done now,” Bjorgvinsdottir told Icelandic public television RUV. Iceland’s Welfare Minister, Eyglo Hardardottir, told RUV that authorities were examining offers made on Facebook and would consider upping the number of refugees accepted under a humanitarian quota.

The Telegraph reported that Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, will announce in the coming days that it will accept thousands more Syrian asylum seekers.

Officials are working on a “detailed package” to give asylum to Syrians under the “vulnerable persons relocation scheme”, which has so far seen 216 people allowed to come to the UK.

Just the day before, Cameron insisted that Britain would not accept “more and more” migrants. But hours after he made those comments, images emerged of a three-year-old boy lying lifeless on a Turkish beach. Aylan Kurdi died when the boat carrying him and his family from Syria capsized.

But British Chancellor George Osborne pointed to the need to address the crisis at its source. He said the UK must fight against the Islamic State group that is the reason many are fleeing Syria and Iraq.

The crisis shows no sign of abating. The BBC reported that the European Union’s border control agency, Frontex, says 23,000 migrants arrived in Greece last week alone—an increase of 50% on the previous week.

Tags:
AfricaIraqIslamist MilitantsRefugeesSyria
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