HUNDREDS are expected to attend a demonstration in Oxford this weekend against the UK Government’s stance on refugees.

The protest, called Refugees Welcome, will be held outside the Sheldonian Theatre in Broad Street from 3pm.

While Germany has offered to take 800,000 refugees in response to the migration crisis, organisers say the British government is more concerned with keeping people out.

Co-organiser Chris Goodall, from North Oxford, said: “This is about ordinary people in Oxfordshire getting together on a Sunday afternoon and saying ‘Not in our name’.

“We were struck by the German football match when ‘Refugees Welcome’ signs were held up by the crowd. We wanted to do something smaller and thought holding up signs in Broad Street would be a start.”

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IMO), between January and August this year about 350,000 refugees have been detected at the EU’s borders and more than 2,600 have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach Greece or Italy.

Since the Syrian civil war began in March 2011 about four million people, facing both the authoritarian Assad regime and Islamic State terrorists, have fled the country.

Speaking yesterday in Newton Aycliffe, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “We are taking thousands of Syrian refugees and we will continue to do that. We keep that under review.

“There’s not a solution to this problem that is simply about taking people. We need a comprehensive solution.”

But Mr Goodall, 59, a writer, said: “We feel there is not a response going on nationally about whether the UK has humanitarian responsibilities.

“What we are seeing coming out of Syria is not conventional economic migration; it’s people leaving a rapidly-disintegrating state where normal life is not possible.

“This is a crowded island but as a country and as a county we must discuss how we can meet some small part of these people’s needs.”

About 300 people have confirmed on Facebook that they will attend the protest.

It has also received support from Oxford city councillor John Tanner and the Oxfordshire Green Party.

The event is non-denominational and non-party political, and people from all walks of life, including families, are invited to bring banners along.

Representatives from Oxford-based support charity Asylum Welcome will be there.

The charity has offered food, English lessons, advice and support to asylum seekers for 20 years.

Last year volunteers supported about 850 people in Oxford, as well as some of the 279 detainees from the Campsfield House immigration detention centre, Kidlington.

Kate Smart, director of Asylum Welcome, said: “We have about 120 local volunteers. “This is a cause close to the hearts of people in Oxford; it’s an enlightened city with a world perspective.

“These are people that are looking for a place of safety and Britain needs to be part of that solution.”

Last month, Witney couple Andy and Hannah Bailey, both 25, took a car packed with donations including clothes, toiletries, sleeping bags and tents to Calais to distribute among refugees.

Mr Bailey said the pair did not want to take sides politically, but added: “Many of the refugees are fleeing from failed states or places where democracy has collapsed.

“When we have a voice, it’s good to use it and it’s great people are reaching out.”

For more information on the event, visit or to donate time or money to Asylum Welcome, visit

What our MPs said

Oxford Mail:


“The most important thing to remember is that these are human beings, exhausted and desperately fleeing real horror.

“Britain has a good record of giving aid in the regions affected but we have a clear moral duty to take more refugees. EU policy is in chaos and it can’t all be left to Germany.

“The Government needs to plan properly for the reception of refugees, with language and integration training, and they should be guided to areas where housing can be found.”


Oxford Mail:

“Britain has a proud history of giving sanctuary to those fleeing conflict and protecting the persecuted.

We cannot be the generation that fails this test of humanity. 

“Having visited Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon myself in 2013, I know only too well the horrific conditions people from the region are fleeing.

“The rapid deterioration, persecution and violation of basic human rights in these countries is almost beyond our comprehension. We must do all we can to help, and I do not believe that we are unable to take more than the numbers we have taken so far.”


Oxford Mail:

“Britain is a moral nation and we will fulfil our moral responsibilities. That’s why I sent the Royal Navy to the Mediterranean; that’s why Britain meets our commitment of 0.7 per cent of our economy spent on aid. We are taking thousands of Syrian refugees and we will continue to do that.

“But there isn’t a solution to this problem that’s simply about taking people. We need a comprehensive solution: a new Government in Libya and we need to deal with the problems in Syria. The people most responsible are President Assad in Syria, the butchers of ISIL and the criminal gangs that are running this terrible trade in people and we have to be as tough on them at the same time.”


Oxford Mail: ElectionsModule Candidate photo

“I welcome the Prime Minister’s pledge to take in more refugees from Syria. This is clearly a global problem, and I am pleased that Britain is playing its part. The UK will be working closely with the UN centres close to the Syrian borders to support many thousands more refugees.

"In addition, the UK government has committed to increasing its already considerable financial contribution to the international aid effort. I remain proud of our country’s record and overall efforts in dealing with this crisis to date. Our military, foreign office and aid department are working intensively on the ground to provide assistance. For instance, the Royal Navy has so far rescued over 6700 people from the Mediterranean.

"This is a long term issue. The Prime Minister’s announcement today is part of our ongoing commitment to resolving this crisis, and the UK’s contribution will be kept under review continually.”


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