A humanitarian charity lit up the White Cliffs of Dover with messages welcoming refugees into the UK ahead of protests over migrant crossings.
Freedom From Torture beamed the message ‘Rise above fear. Refugees welcome’ on the iconic Kent landmark last night.
The messages included ‘These cliffs mean hope’ and tributes to Syrian boy Alan Kurdi on the fifth anniversary of his tragic death.
Rival groups are expected to demonstrate over migrant crossings today with many fearing violence between the two.
One of the groups who have organised a protest in Market Square today, Kent Anti Racism Network, said: ‘This weekend symbolises this struggle, and we encourage all good people in the local community to come down and stand with us in support of those arriving on our shores, in the way that Kent did so proudly when welcoming refugees after World War 2.’
Both pro and anti-immigration activists have announced their intention to gather in the Kent port, despite a plea from local MP Natalie Elphicke to ‘stay away’.
Sonya Sceats, Chief Executive of Freedom from Torture, blamed the government for ‘stocking fear’.
‘The government thinks that by stoking fear about the Channel crossings it can distract us from its political blunders and get away with plans to dismantle our civil liberties,’ she said.
‘But the hatred it has fomented for political ends is getting out of control.’
One anti-immigration demonstrator who goes by the name The Little Veteran on social media is calling on people to ‘shut the port down for days’ but has asked everyone to be peaceful.
In a video posted on YouTube, he asked people to drive slowly along roads and block harbour entrances with boats.
Anti-racist group Hope Not Hate has raised concerns there will be violence if the far-right travel to Dover.
Similar protests in Kent in 2016 turned violent while two coaches at a nearby service station had swastikas painted on them in blood.
Chief Superintendent Nigel Brookes from Kent Police said: ‘As a force, it is our responsibility to facilitate peaceful protests, however we will not tolerate violence or disorder.
‘Anyone planning to visit Dover with the intention of committing offences should be aware they are not welcome here and that we will seek to prosecute anyone who breaks the law.’
Where in the world has the most refugees?
Although the UK has seen over 4,000 migrants arrive in boats this year the UK hosts very few of the world’s refugees.
- There are 26 million refugees globally
- Half of the world’s refugees are children
- 85 per cent of refugees are being hosted in developing countries
- In 2019 over more than two-thirds of all refugees came from: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanma
- Over the past decade over 1 million refugees were resettled
- In the same ten years 3.9 million refugees returned to their country.
- The world’s top refugee-host countries are:
Source: Amnesty International and The World Bank
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