The British government will be forced to debate increasing support to refugees after more than 189,000 people signed a petition demanding that the government increase its assistance, AL Jazeera reports. Under British law, only 100,000 signatures are needed to force a debate in parliament. The petition went viral on social media sites Facebook and Twitter on Thursday after pictures emerged of a Syrian child lying lifeless on a Turkish beach on Wednesday.
The child, three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, drowned with his mother and five-year-old brother, while trying to make the journey between the Turkish resort of Bodrum and the Greek island of Kos. The images sparked international outrage and demands from governments to do more to protect those trying to reach the EU. In an interview with the BBC on Thursday, Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “deeply moved” by the image of Aylan, adding the UK would fulfil its “moral responsibilities” towards refugees.
“Britain has always been a home to real asylum seekers, genuine refugees,” Cameron said. Several members of Cameron’s Conservative party have called on the government to grant more refugees asylum. “The UK I know has always shouldered its burden in the world…we can and must do more at home,” said Ruth Davidson, the leader of the party in Scotland.
Cameron was criticised on social media for previous comments he has made about people wanting to enter the UK. In July he called those wanting to get in to the country a “swarm”. Writing in the Independent newspaper, commentator Yasmin Alibhai-Brown slammed the prime minister for his use of the word, and other politicians for demonising refugees. “Our Government can only talk in numbers, so too most of the media…social psychopathy is the result. ”
Others compared the British prime minister’s reaction to that of his German counterpart, Angela Merkel, who has promised to accept 800,000 refugees. Europe is facing its biggest refugee crisis since World War II, as thousands of Syrian refugees and others, including from Iraq, Afghanistan and Sub-Saharan countries, make the perilous journey to EU states.