Thousands petition UK government to accept more refugees
Tens of thousands of British people petitioned their government to do its part to help an unprecedented influx of refugees fleeing war and violence to safety in Europe on Wednesday.
A parliamentary petition calling on the conservative government of Prime Minister David Cameron to accept more asylum seekers gained over 40,000 signatures after a photo of a drowned child on a beach in Turkey went viral. The photo was of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea along with his five-year-old brother Galip and mother Rihan, according to the BBC.
"There is a global refugee crisis. The UK is not offering proportional asylum in comparison with European counterparts," the petition read.
"We can't allow refugees who have risked their lives to escape horrendous conflict and violence to be left living in dire, unsafe and inhumane conditions in Europe."
The government is obliged to respond as the petition with over 10,000 signatures, and if it reaches 100,000 the issue will be considered for debate in parliament.
The petition reached 46,600 signatures by the end of Wednesday.
A separate Change.org petition calling on Home Secretary Theresa May to give "immediate sanctuary to refugees fleeing war and violence" gained 135,000 signatures in four days.
The Independent newspaper launched its own campaign on Wednesday, calling for Britain to "accept its fair share of refugees," which gained 13,600 signatures in hours.
Opposition politicians have called on Cameron to increase the numbers of refugees accepted in Britain, which accepts a lower number of asylum seekers as a proportion of its population than most other EU countries.
The issue of immigration is one of Britain's most sensitive political issues.
Cameron faced criticism over Britain's acceptance of under 6,000 Syrian refugees, after Germany said it expected to receive 800,000 asylum seekers this year.
But the prime minister insisted on Wednesday that a solution would not be found "simply by taking more and more refugees".
The British government resisted calls for a quota system to share refugees across the 28 member states of the European Union this summer.
Thousands of people have died trying to reach Europe this year, with many fleeing conflict in the Middle East and North Africa.