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Foreign minister: EU's 'credibility' is at stake

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Foreign minister: EU's 'credibility' is at stake
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT
07:56 CEST+02:00
UPDATED: Margot Wallström, Sweden's Foreign Minister, has warned that the EU's global credibility is at stake if it does not act now to tackle the refugee crisis.
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said on Friday that the European Union needed to work harder to come up with a solution to the crisis and pushed other member states to take in a larger quota of refugees.
 
Speaking as she landed in Luxembourg for a two day meeting with other European foreign ministers, she said: "Both we and Germany will point out that we take a disproportionately large responsibility and unfortunately there are other countries doing very little."
 
Her comments came as more than 19,000 people in Sweden registered their support for refugees by signing up for a rally in Stockholm this weekend, as charity donations smashed records.

The ‘Refugees Welcome' demonstration is set to take place in Medborgarplatsen, a square in Södermalm, Stockholm, at 4pm on Sunday. Guest speakers will join locals in calling for better protection and assistance to refugees arriving in Europe.

By Friday at 4pm, 19,000 people had joined the Facebook group for the event, which is being supported by numerous charities including Rädda Barnens Ungdomsförbund (Save the Children's youth wing), Ungdom mot rasism Stockholm (Young people against racism in Stockholm) and Röda Korsets Ungdomsförbund (the youth arm of the Red Cross in Sweden).


Södermalmstorg (to the left of this image) is where the rally is set to happen. Photo: Eric Mårtensson/TT

Youth wings of political groups from across the spectrum have also pledged their support, with young Feminist Initiative and Left party supporters set to join members of all of Sweden's major centre-right Alliance parties.

The rally was organized following similar events at football matches in Austria and Germany last month, but gained momentum after images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a Turkish beach sparked debate around the world on Thursday.

READ ALSO: 'Sweden was right, the UK should be ashamed'


Aylan Kurdi, 3, was found dead on a beach in Turkey. Photo: Uncredited/TT

Meanwhile, donations are continuing to flood in for Swedish charities offering emergency relief for refugees.

The Radiohjälpen organization, backed by Sweden's public service broadcaster SVT, said it had raised four million kronor ($472,000) by Friday, surpassing a previous daily record set when Swedes rushed to offer donations to assist the response to the tsunami in south east Asia in 2004.

"People are opening their eyes and seeing that this is about people. When my daughter was three years old, we sat on a beach and played by the water. This boy will not play any more, and he lived his whole life amid war and conflict," Per Byman a spokesperson for the charity told the TT newswire.

A private Swedish group called Vi gor vad vi kan (We do what we can), which was launched on Wednesday has received donations of just over five million kronor ($594,000). It is also coordinating efforts to collect clothes, shoes, blankets and sleeping bags to send to refugees arriving in the Mediterranean.

The Red Cross also reported a flood of donations, with three million kronor ($350,000) collected by Friday afternoon.

READ ALSO: How to help refugees if you live in Sweden

The number of migrants reaching the EU's borders reached nearly 340,000 during the first seven months of the year, up from 123,500 during the same period in 2014, according to the bloc's border agency Frontex. A total of 48,774 have so far applied for asylum in Sweden this year.

But at least 2,300 migrants have died at sea since January during attempts to reach Europe, almost invariably on overcrowded boats chartered by people smugglers.

Sweden currently takes in more asylum seekers per capita than any other EU nation. But while many Swedes have rushed to show their support in recent days, the nationalist Sweden Democrat party, which backs slashing immigration, is growing in popularity. Polls suggested last month that it is now supported by at least 18 percent of voters, in contrast to the 12.9 percent it polled a year ago in the last general election.

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