Demonstrators in Barcelona demand immigrants' welcome

Barcelona: At least 160,000 people in Barcelona took part in a demonstration in favour of welcoming refugees and to ask European Union authorities to provide "safe routes" for immigrants.

The mobilisation, called by the Our House, Your House campaign, and which seeks to become Europe's largest pro-immigrant movement, marched Saturday afternoon down the main streets of the city and planned to wind up at Barcelona's Paseo Maritimo promenade, Efe news reported.

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau said she hopes that, with this march, Barcelona "will become the capital of hope, of peace, and of the defense of human rights."

The banner at the head of the march was carried by immigrants already settled in the city and read "Enough excuses. Let's welcome them now."

In a statement to the press, the mayor said the demonstration is a message for all the nations of Europe, and called on them to establish "safe routes" for immigrants.

She also said the march could be the beginning of many more demonstrations in other European cities with offers of "hope and life."

The demonstrators' march went off in a family atmosphere with people of all ages taking part, many of them immigrants, together with small children and babies in strollers.

All the Catalan political parties except for the Catalonia branch of the ruling Popular Party (PP) expressed their support for the demonstration and/or announced they would take part.

Anti-racism, pro-immigration organisations, like the NGOs Proactive Open Arms, SOS Racism, the Stop Mare Mortum campaign and Papers for Everyone, also attended.

Our House, Your House organised late for a cultural event after the march featuring the famed theatre company La Fura dels Baus with music by the Barcelona Gypsy Balkan Orchestra.

During the event that ended late in the morning, two women -- one a Syrian refugee and the other a survivor of the the war in the Balkans -- related their terrifying experiences to the demonstrators.