Vilnius rally urges Lithuanians to welcome refugees

DELFI / Orestas Gurevičius

“The fact that we gathered here today and that we have a crowd of volunteers proves well that people do care, that people want to contribute and that people are not hostile,” Vilma Vaitiekūnaitė, one of the organizers of the campaign, told journalists.

Over 50 people gathered in the event, however, in Vaitiekūnaitė’s words, about 200 people have filled out online registration forms to teach refugees, donate money or items or even host them in their homes.

Among the participants was Syrian citizen Median Tiba who has been living in Vilnius for seven years. The young man told BNS it would be easy for refugees to integrate in Lithuania.

“I was not a refugee when I came here, I came here to study, however, if refugees come here in the future, I believe Lithuania can definitely be helpful and help their integration,” he said.

Tiba expressed regret over illegal economic migrants finding disguise in the crowds of people fleeing from war.

“The refugees include a large number of economic migrants, however, they will not be from Syria, they will largely be from other countries and they’re just seizing the opportunity. I have seen a video of refugees crashing things in Greece or doing other bad stuff, and I feel sad because people seeing this think that all refugees are aggressive, that they don’t want peace and they simply seek to come to Germany. This is not true – there are very many refugees from Syria running with their children, but we don’t see them,” said Tiba.

Among the participants of the campaign were young people, folding symbolic white and yellow paper ships. Some held slogans, saying Refugees Welcome.

Europe is currently faced with the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. Last week, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urged European Union (EU) member-states to resettle 160,000 refugees from the most affected countries, namely, Hungary, Greece and Italy, as well as called for a permanent resettlement mechanism. Lithuania has agreed to receive 1,105 persons from Iraq, Syria and Eritrea over two years.

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