Refugees Greece
Refugees hold a banner reading 'We are slowly dying here' during a protest asking for the opening of the Greek-Macedonian border on 12 March 2016 Getty Images

Around 6,000 people in Vienna took part in a demonstration with many chanting: "Welcome to Refugees, No to Fortress Europe." The inner city was blockaded for hours as the mass protest made their way to the country's parliament, where a ceremony was held to remember those who had died in the attempt to cross into Europe from Turkey on rubber dinghies and small boats.

Speakers at the rally spoke out against the terrible conditions in refugee camps in Greece, such as the Idomeni camp near the border with Macedonia, where some had drowned attempting to cross a river.

According to the Austrian Press Agency, the demonstrators carried banners proclaiming the slogan "welcome refugees" and carried inflatable boats, symbolising the migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea.

Austria's migration policy limits the number of asylum seekers in the country to 37,500 people for 2016. The Turkey-EU deal, struck on 18 March, will see all migrants arriving illegally from Turkey to Greece returned back from 20 March. In exchange, the EU will resettle thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey.

There were also calls for human rights for asylum seekers at the demonstration, which is part of a series of events taking place across Europe to coincide with the United Nations anti-racism day. Demonstrations also took place in London, Athens, Barcelona, Amsterdam and several Swiss cities.

In London, approximately 4,000 people joined a protest on Saturday 19 March, carrying placards with slogans such as "Refugees welcome here" and "Stand up to racism".

Emiliano Mellino, a financial journalist from Argentina, told the World Bulletin: "The situation right now in Syria, in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Turkey… the number of refugees they have, and the pressure those countries have, is incredible and Europe is not letting in enough people."

In Athens, police said 1,500 people took to the streets while media put the figure at 3,000. The protestors, who included many Afghan refugees, particularly women and children, chanted "Open the borders" and "We are human beings, we have rights."

Pro-refugee activist Thanassis Kourkoulas said: "We're calling on the Greek government to stop aligning itself with the EU's anti-refugee policies."

Several thousand people marched in Barcelona, carrying banners proclaiming: "No person is illegal."