Vilnius to host rally in solidarity with refugees

“The municipality has been informed that 200 people will participate,” Akvilė Lukošė, one of the organizers, told BNS on Tuesday.

In her words, the demonstration in Lithuania is part of a pan-EU initiative. Similar demonstrations will also on Saturday take place in other European countries as well as Australia and North American cities.

“During the event, people will make paper boats and also hold a minute of silence to pay tribute to those who died trying to save their lives and dignity. We will also show that refugees are welcome here,” Lukošė said.

She also slammed Lithuanian politicians who have recently called for “criminalizing Muslim clothing, warned about a future increase in crimes and Lithuania’s Islamization”.

Lithuania should not only accept refugees under mandatory EU quotas but also see it as “an absolute minimum we should do,” Lukošė said, adding that the refugee integration infrastructure in Lithuania is good, but xenophobia and negative attitudes are the key obstacles to successful integration of refugees.

Europe is now dealing with the worst refugee crisis since WWII as around 350,000 migrants have arrived in the EU since January.

In order to help Southern Europe to handle the influx, Brussels officially proposed last week to relocate 120,000 refugees from Italy, Greece and Hungary.

Last summer, EU member states agreed to accept 32,000 refugees on a voluntary basis. Lithuania then committed to taking in 325 refugees over the next two years but the Lithuanian government acknowledged last week that the country would probably have to accept more refugees.

Lithuania was among Central and Eastern European countries that were against the proposed mandatory refugee quota system.

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