Moved by the image of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi and the plight of Syrian refugees in Hungary and elsewhere, thousands of Britons have taken to social media to organise aid and deliver it to people gathered in large numbers in Calais.
The response of citizens to the refugee crisis has been described as extraordinary, as people offered their garages and homes as centres to collect clothes, water and other material. Many have been overwhelmed by the response and have stopped accepting more.
From Prime Minister David Cameron recently describing the people trying to reach Europe as a ‘swarm’, the public discourse in Britain has changed dramatically after Kurdi’s image emerged - ‘migrants’ are increasingly referred to as ‘refugees’, reflecting popular mood in the country.
Charity organisations said they raised hundreds of thousands of pounds within hours, as citizens took the initiative to help out. Several councils across Britain have informed London of the number of Syrian refugees they could accommodate.
Chancellor George Osborne told BBC on Sunday that Prime Minister David Cameron would announce the relief and rehabilitation plan for Syrian refugees in the House of Commons on Monday. Cameron has already said Britain will take in thousands of refugees.
Osborne said: “While helping people in desperate need, we should not encourage more families to make that desperately dangerous journey across the Mediterranean and so we think we should go directly to these refugee camps and help people and bring people from those camps to the United Kingdom.”
He added: “We need to make an assessment of what our public services and infrastructure can support. But let me say this, the foreign aid budget we have - and we’ve increased this foreign aid budget - can provide the support in the first year for these refugees, can help local councils with things like housing costs.”