British actor Benedict Cumberbatch fronts charity song for refugees


LONDON (THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION) - British actor Benedict Cumberbatch is fronting the release of a charity single to raise money for the rising wave of refugees reaching Europe's shores from Syria and other nations, seeking safety from war and persecution.

Cumberbatch, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the film The Imitation Game, has recorded a video message for the re-issue of a 20-year-old song by Australian band Crowded House called Help Is Coming.

All funds from the sale of the single will go to Save The Children, one of many charities trying to help thousands of refugees fleeing to Europe from Syria and other troubled countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea and Somalia.

Cumberbatch, 39, who played Sherlock Holmes in the hit BBC television series, quotes from a poem called Home by British-Somali poet Warsan Shire and adds a message to the refugees.

"As people watching this tragedy unfold from the safety of our homes, with our safe children, we want to say that we see you, we hear you and help is coming," he said.

More than 380,000 refugees, about half of them Syrians fleeing civil war, have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year, a figure "expected to continue rising rapidly over the coming weeks and months", the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.

The single is the brainchild of two British writers who were devastated by images of three-year-old Syrian Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach after he, his older brother and their mother drowned trying to reach Europe.

Neil Finn, lead singer of Crowded House, has waived his royalties to the song which was written about migrants crossing the Atlantic to begin a new life in America.

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced this week that Britain would take 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years, prioritising women and children from refugee camps in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.

But more than 100 leading British cultural figures, including Cumberbatch, sculptor Anish Kapoor, and actors Keira Knightley and Colin Firth released a statement on Friday calling for Britain to take more refugees and saying the government's response to the refugee crisis has been "too little, too late".