Australia

Australians hold candlelit vigils for Syrians

Photo of Aylan Kurdi with candles, the 3 year-old Syrian refugee who drowned off a beach in Turkey, whose death prompted widespread public anger. Image copyright AAP
Image caption Like others, Australians were shocked by the deaths of two young Syrian boys and their mother

Thousands of Australians have held candlelit vigils for Syria as pressure mounts for Australia to offer to take in more refugees.

Australia has said it will take more Syrians, but stopped short of increasing its overall refugee intake.

Social media has taken up the push for a policy change, with people on Tuesday posting photos to #lightthedark.

More vigils will be held this week, which will also remember a Syrian child who drowned on the coast of Turkey.

An image of three-year-old Alan Kurdi lying face down on a beach has sparked an international outcry over the human cost of the European migrant crisis.

An estimated 10,000 people attended the ceremony at Sydney's Hyde Park on Monday night, and thousands more in other cities.

They came ahead of an expected announcement on Tuesday from the Australian government authorising air strikes against the so-called Islamic State group in Syria.

Image copyright AAP
Image caption Karez Najifar, 5, during a vigil at Melbourne's Treasury Gardens
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Australia has historically accepted immigrants from around the world

Members of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's own party, including several state premiers, have called for more to be done for people fleeing Syria.

A Kosovo-type solution has been discussed that would see Syrians and Iraqis housed in Australia, then returned home once the countries were safe.

The Federal Opposition has called for 10,000 additional places for refugees from the Middle East, with priority to be given to those from conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Image copyright Adelaide Symphony
Image copyright Rachel Ariel
Image copyright Fr Rod Bower

Opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten also said the government should spend an extra $A100m ($69m; £45.6m) on aid for refugees.


A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.


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