Protesters to tell Parliament: 'Don't let Syria's children freeze to death'

A vigil tonight outside Parliament will highlight the Syrian refugee crisis.Reuters

At least a thousand people are expected to join a candlelit vigil outside Parliament this evening to highlight the plight of Syrian refugees facing a winter under canvas in crowded refugee camps.

The vigil, organised by Citizens UK, will focus on the six children who froze to death in camps last year.

Organisers hope to put pressure on the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to resettle 1,000 Syrian refugees before Christmas and to commit to taking 10,000 refugees a year for the next five years.

Their slogan is, "We the people welcome refugees".

The crisis in Syria has led to an outpouring of support for Britain taking more refugees. Cameron has committed the country to taking 20,000 during the lifetime of this parliament, or 4,000 a year, but says that displaced people are better supported by helping them in the camps to which they have fled in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, to which Britain gives generous support.

Six Syrian refugee children died of exposure during last year's harsh winter.Reuters

However, the government's approach has been criticised by senior lawyers, former law lords and retired judges, who yesterday denounced the offer of 20,000 places as "far to low, too slow and too narrow".

A statement was published by 300 senior legal figures including the former president of the supreme court, Lord Phillips, three ex-law lords – Steyn, Walker and Woolf – as well as a former president of the European court of human rights, Sir Nicolas Bratza. It calls for "safe and legal routes to the UK" to be established, for Britain to accept a "fair and proportionate share of refugees", and the suspension of the system that compels asylum-seekers to claim asylum in the first EU country where they arrive.

Citizens UK has campaigned for local councils and private landlords to offer places to refugees. So far 37 councils have signed up to their programme.

It says: "We must act now to build on the support already shown by the people and send a clear message that we will not just go home and forget about it or give up. The country stands ready and willing to support the government in rising to the challenge posed by the largest refugee crisis in generations."

The vigil begins at 6.30pm.