Murwillumbah pays respects to drowned refugee boy

MORE than a hundred people turned up to Murwillumbah's Light The Dark vigil on Monday night, in a bid to urge the federal government to allow more asylum seekers to enter Australia, amid the crisis in Syria.  

Murwillumbah resident Jude Buckley took her grandchildren, Malik and Emmagen Bryan, along.   

Ms Buckley said it was a sense of humanity which inspired her to attend the event.  

"I came to help people...and to wake Mr Abbott up," she said.   Ms Buckley said she felt Australia should be more welcoming to refugees.  

"People have to open their hearts," she said.  

Carmen Stewart, one of the organisers of the vigil, said while she had not seen the photo of drowned three-year-old refugee Aylan Kurdi, which was one of the catalysts inspiring the vigils, she had "seen enough" to want to take action.  

"We want to say welcome to the refugees," she said.   

Following the vigil, Greens spokesperson for Tweed Dawn Walker called on the federal government to offer safety to 20,000 Syrian refugees fleeing for their lives, contribute $150 million in funding for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in response to Europe's refugee crisis, and grant asylum to Syrian refugees held in the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres.   

She said the Abbott Government's recent announcement to accept more Syrian refugees was "smoke and mirrors". 

"What PM Abbott really meant is that this government is prepared to trade one fleeing family for another rather than respond to this devastating humanitarian crisis and offer safety to more people," Ms Walker said.   

"Many of us in the Northern Rivers have been moved by the Syrian refugee crisis and in particular, a heart wrenching photograph of the little Syrian boy Aylan who drowned trying to escape the war.  

"His body washing up on the shore has quickly come to represent the unfolding tragedy in Syria, and our responsibility to help.  

"The message of the night was that our government's inaction does not represent us, and that Australia says welcome to refugees fleeing for their lives.  

"The war in Syria is complex and there is no simple solution.

"But what is clear, is that dropping more bombs and ignoring the millions of people who are fleeing for their lives is not a solution at all. 

Standing by and doing nothing to ease this crisis is not an option."  

Light The Dark vigils have been held across the Northern Rivers and Australia.  

Local vigils for refugees to "send a message to the world"

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