As the refugee crisis continues, some Europeans are opening their arms

AP

As horrific stories of asylum seekers drowning in the Mediterranean and in one case suffocating in a truck continue to filter out of Europe every day, there have been signs that some Europeans are ready to welcome refugees to their countries.

In Germany, despite a string of recent arson attacks on asylum seeker housing and other incidents driven by neo-Nazi groups, some Germans have held pro-refugee protests. In Dresden, around 1,000 protesters marched under banners that read "Refugees Welcome."

Advertisement
Protesters demonstrate with a banner 'Refugees welcome!' in Dresden, eastern Germany, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. A refugee shelter was attacked by far-right protesters in Heidenau near Dresden over the last weekend. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
AP

In the town of Heidenau, where a new refugee center is opening, locals held a welcome event, handing out food and supplies on Friday.

Advertisement
In this Friday Aug. 28, 2015 picture refugees and supporters dance together during a a welcome party for refugees in Heidenau, Germany. Local authorities had imposed a blanket ban on public assemblies to prevent a repeat of the violence that occurred outside a refugee shelter last weekend, in which dozens of police officers were injured. The ban was partially lifted by a court to allow a welcome party for refugees to take place. (Sebastian Willnow/dpa via AP)
AP

Just a week before, police in the same town of 16,000 residents clashed with neo-Nazis yelling abuse at asylum seekers and throwing stones, bottles and fire crackers, the Guardian reports.

Advertisement

In Berlin, a refugee center handed out toys to children seeking asylum:

In this picture taken Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 children take donated soft toys at a first admission refugee facility of Labour Welfare Services AWO in Berlin's Gatow district, Germany. The starkly differing reactions to the influx of refugees points to an increasing polarization in Germany, with growing acceptance of outsiders by a majority but a persistent and possibly radicalized minority fearful of all things foreign. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
AP
Advertisement

On the Greek island of Leros, where some refugees who survive the journey across the Mediterranean Sea first land in Europe, locals and even visiting tourists have pitched in to provide support:

Martina Katsiveli, centre, a 60-year-old former judge and the driving force behind the island of Leros' volunteer network, talks to Syrian refugees on the grounds of the hospital in Leros, Greece, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. This Greek island that was once a place of exile for political prisoners has become one of the country's most welcoming communities for migrants fleeing chaos and war, thanks to a dedicated grass-roots volunteer network and tourists interrupting their vacations to provide what help they can. But even on Leros, a 75-square kilometer (29 sq. mile) rocky outcrop in the Aegean Sea with a permanent population of fewer than 10,000 people, the welcome mat is fraying under the sheer numbers of migrants _ hundreds arrive in smugglers' boats most days _ making the perilous boat journey here across the Aegean Sea from Turkey. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
AP
Advertisement

In Eisenstadt, Austria, locals demonstrated their support for refugees after the bodies of 71 asylum seekers (revised up from what were originally thought to be 20–50 bodies) were found decomposing in a truck on the Austria-Hungary border.

People hold a banner reading :
AP
Advertisement

In Vienna, trains full of asylum seekers are welcomed by signs posted on platforms that read "Refugees Welcome – Open Borders", The New York Times writes:

The Viennese who assembled to greet the newcomers brought shopping carts and boxes full of bottled water, bread, diapers, cookies, fruit and candy.

“They have been traveling so long and must be very hungry and they have been treated so shabbily,” said Marlene Pramhas, a social worker. She and two friends brought as many loaves of bread as they could carry to the train station, where “it is more or less chaos,” she said.

Advertisement

Most of the refugees press on to Germany, where thousands are arriving every day. The German government expects some 800,000 people seeking asylum by the end of the year.

Meanwhile in Iceland, a local writer has rallied more than 10,000 people on a Facebook page in support of refugees, the Telegraph reports, after the Icelandic government announced last week that they would only take 50 more refugees.

Advertisement

“I think people have had enough of seeing news stories from the Mediterranean and refugee camps of dying people and they want something done now," author Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir told an Icelandic public TV program.

The U.N. has called on wealthier nations in particular to take in more refugees as the ongoing civil war in Syria contributes to one of the most severe refugee crises the world has ever seen.

Share This Story