Columbans join London Refugee Solidarity March

19th September 2016 - by Ellen Teague

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Columbans joined around 30,000 people in a march through Central London on Saturday calling on government to do more to aid refugees ahead of a UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants in New York on Monday.



A packed ecumenical service of prayer for refugees was held at St James, Spanish Place before the march, organised by CAFOD, Christian Aid and Jesuit Refugee Service. There was reflection on the Lampedusa Cross, made from wooden planks of sunken refugee boats. Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service, introduced Victoire Lally, a refugee from war-torn Togo, who gave a harrowing description of living through conflict in her country and detention in Britain. She received an ovation as thanked all the Catholic organisations who have helped her.Lampedusa Cross Banners

After the service, campaigners filed out with their banners to join the march down Park Lane towards Parliament Square, organised by Solidarity with Refugees with groups such as Amnesty International, Oxfam, Médecins Sans Frontières, the Refugee Council and Stop the War Coalition. Among the Catholic banners were: the Columban Missionaries, The Association of the Holy Family of Bordeaux, Franciscans, Dominicans, JRS, CSAN, CAFOD parish groups, Westminster Justice and Peace Medical Mission Sisters, and Medical Missionaries of Mary. and many more. Slogans included: ‘End the Drowning’, ‘ Reunite Families’, ‘No-one is illegal’, Choose love’, ‘Be human’, ‘Suffer the Children’.

More than 3,200 refugees and asylum seekers have drowned attempting to reach Europe so far this year. Around 300,000 who survived the journey are now stranded in Greece and Italy in desperately poor living conditions. Around 10,000 are living in squalid conditions at the ‘Jungle’ in Calais. Many of the refugees are unaccompanied children, some as young as six. There was a minute’s silence for a 14 year old refugee boy from Calais who died a few days ago trying to reach UK.

Refugees were also remembered on Saturday at the National Justice and Peace Network of England and Wales network meeting in Bath.