‘Open the gates and let them in’, says refugee rally

Portsmouth council leader condemns Barcelona attack

  • Supporters turned out to urge city leaders to take more refugees amid humanitarian crisis
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SUPPORT for refugees at a rally was made loud and clear as people were urged to convince politicians more can be housed in Portsmouth.

Around 150 people went to Guildhall Square on Saturday as speakers stood on the steps and issued rallying cries.

SUPPORT People in Guildhall Square making their feelings known about the refugee crisis                       Picture: Paul Jacobs (151613-6)

SUPPORT People in Guildhall Square making their feelings known about the refugee crisis Picture: Paul Jacobs (151613-6)

Their message was that with help from government, the city could play a part in housing more refugees.

It comes after Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, told The News the city does not have space to take in more asylum seekers.

James Finch, a passer-by at the rally, disagreed. The 23-year-old roofer, from Ward Road, in Southsea, said: ‘To be honest if you’re in charge you can’t just flood the country because of services and room but you can definitely accept more. You can try to help and maximise comfort for refugees who are really struggling and try to make a priority list to who needs help and assistance the most. We should help them out and allow them to live in Portsmouth.’

Speakers included the Green Party’s Tim Dawes. He said: ‘We need to look at a long-term solution to our problem.

Open the gate and let them in

Tim Dawes

‘The normal human response if someone across the road fell over, we’d dash over there and help them.

‘If your neighbour needed help you’d go and help them – these people are our neighbours. It’s our duty, our righteous duty, to help these people so let’s go and do it. In the short-term, open the gate and let them in.’

It comes as PM David Cameron pledged to welcome 20,000 refugees from Syria into the UK by 2020. Increasing pressure has been put on western governments and Europe to take refugees from the conflict in Syria.

Enya Evans, of Lawrence Road, Southsea, is a second-year politics student at the University of Portsmouth.

She was at the rally with friends and said: ‘It’s important to show that not everybody thinks that refugees shouldn’t be allowed into the country.’

She added people in the city living under the poverty line should be helped.

Donna Jones, leader of the council, has previously said from April to June this year, 124 asylum seekers had been housed in Portsmouth – 43 per cent of the south-east total.

Passer-by Tom McCaffery, 18, of The Thicket, Southsea, added: ‘It’s really sad what’s going on but have you ever heard charity starts at home?’

Police were at the rally but there was no trouble.