Lithuania to host "refugees welcome" demonstration in Vilnius

  • 2015-09-08

On Saturday September 12, Vilnius will host a "friendly demonstration" on  to express solidarity with refugees affected by the Mediterranean crisis.

Around 200 people are expected to attend the demonstration, the organisers told BNS news service on Tuesday. 

According to one of the organisers, Akvile Lukose, the demonstration in Lithuania is part of a pan-EU initiative.

Similar demonstrations will also take place on Saturday in other European countries as well as Australia, and North America. 

"During the event, people will make paper boats and also hold a minute of silence to honor those who died trying to save their lives and dignity,” said Lukose. “We will also show that refugees are welcome here.”

She also slammed Lithuanian politicians who have recently called for "criminalising Muslim clothing, and who have warned about a future increase in crimes and Lithuania's Islamisation."

Lithuania should not only accept refugees under mandatory quotas from the European Union, but also see it as "an absolute minimum we should do," she continued.

She added the existing refugee integration infrastructure in Lithuania is good, but xenophobia and racist attitudes will be the main obstacles facing the successful integration of refugees.

Europe is now dealing with the worst refugee crisis since World War 2, with around 350,000 migrants having arrived in the EU from war-torn North African countries since January 2015.

In order to help Southern Europe to handle the burden, Brussels proposed last week the relocation of 120,000 refugees from Italy, Greece and Hungary.

In summer 2015, EU member states agreed to accept 32,000 refugees on a voluntary basis. Lithuania then committed to taking in 325 refugees by 2017.

Last week, however, the Lithuanian government acknowledged the country would probably have to accept more refugees than originally proposed.

Lithuania was among Central and Eastern European countries that were against the proposed mandatory refugee quota system.

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