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Large protests held across Europe over EU-Turkey refugee deal

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Demonstrators hold banners in support of refugees as they march through central London on March 19, 2016. (AFP)

Thousands of people have staged protesting rallies across Europe to show their dissent with the recent deal between the European Union and Turkey aimed at stemming the influx of refugees into Europe.

Thousands of people on Saturday filled the streets in several European capitals, including London, Athens, Amsterdam, and Vienna, to voice their support for the refugees, who have fled their war-stricken countries. 

An Afghan woman holds a photograph picturing refugees in the Aegean Sea as she takes part in a protest march calling for justice for asylum seekers in central Athens, Greece, on March 19, 2016 (AFP)

In London, about 4,000 people took to the streets, holding placards saying “Refugees welcome here” and “Stand up to racism”.

In Athens, some 3,000 protesters, including Afghan refugees, particularly women and children, also shouted slogans such as “Open the borders” and “We are human beings, we have rights”.

Other major European cities also saw similar protests. Several thousand people in Barcelona carried banners with slogans such as “No person is illegal,” and hundreds of other people also staged demonstrations in Swiss cities of Geneva, Zurich, and Lucerne.

A controversial agreement was clinched in Brussels between Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and the EU on Friday to curb the huge flow of asylum seekers to Europe. Under the pact, Ankara will be obliged to take back all illegal refugees deported from Greece while the EU will accept thousands of Syrian asylum seekers directly from Turkey.

According to the agreement, Turkey will start accepting the illegal refugees who were crossing into Greece on March 20 and the relocation of refugees from Turkey into the EU would occur as of April 4.

The EU-Turkey deal, however, has provoked strong reactions from aid agencies and rights groups, including the United Nations' refugee agency, the United Nations Children's Fund, the UK-based NGO Save the Children, and Amnesty International, about its legality and practicability.

Europe is facing a massive flow of refugees who are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.

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