Some 3,000 people attended a rally in Brussels in an attempt to support refugees fleeing conflict and persecution, holding banners reading “safe passage now” for refugees, police said on Saturday, as smaller rallies drew hundreds in Paris and other European cities.
The marchers symbolically wore life jackets and blankets to highlight the perilous journey of refugees, notably from the Syrian conflict, in unsafe vessels across the Aegean Sea to head to Europe.
As European nations have been trying to deal with the inflow, protesters insisted on refugees’ right to safety.
"Nowhere is it written in the Geneva Conventions that one can close borders to refugees -- quite the contrary," Brussels marcher Beatrice Dispaux said.
"These people need help and shelter and we can give them that. The situation is critical, the politicians must act urgently," she added.
Several rallies were held across Germany, home for many of those seeking a new life in Europe, as a Belgian group of associations said on its website that some 100 cities across Europe and beyond were holding marches to support refugees.
Some 200 protesters gathered in central Paris as marchers in the northern German city of Hamburg held aloft Afghan flags and banners reading “No nation, no border."
Balkan states along the refugee route taken by hundreds of thousands of refugees in the past year have recently closed their borders to Afghan nationals, allowing Syrians and Iraqis to go through.
Rights group including Amnesty International attended several of the rallies in Europe, along with several leftist groups.