By Lin Taylor
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Britain has voted to leave the European Union, forcing the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and dealing the biggest blow to the European project of greater unity since World War Two.
The four-month campaign was among the divisive ever waged in Britain, with accusations of lying and scare-mongering on both sides and rows on immigration which critics said at times unleashed overt racism.
It revealed deep splits in British society, with the pro-Brexit side drawing support from millions of voters who felt left behind by globalization and believed they saw no benefits from Britain's ethnic diversity and free-market economy.
Here are some reactions from aid agencies, charities and religious organizations about the decision to leave the EU:
KATE ALLEN, DIRECTOR OF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL UK
"Even as it negotiates its exit, the UK government should be looking to preserve the strong rights protections that originated in EU law – particularly in areas such as non-discrimination, the right to privacy and workers' rights. The Brexit debate was sadly contaminated by unpleasant xenophobic undertones: wherever it is that the UK is now heading, these sentiments and this kind of politics should have no place. The challenge now, is to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us and universal human rights are central to that."
LORETTA MINGHELLA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF CHRISTIAN AID UK
"After a bruising campaign which has split the country down the middle it is now vital that we come together as a nation and recognize we are all part of a global human family. Leaving the EU must not mean turning our backs on the world, especially those in our world struggling to free themselves from poverty. The UK has long been a leader of global progress towards a world free from poverty and there is no reason why that should change now that it has voted to leave the EU."
ACTION AID UK
"Britain has taken the momentous decision to leave the EU. ActionAid will continue to push for greater international cooperation to eradicate the poverty and injustice that impacts the world's poorest women and children."
SAVE THE CHILDREN UK
"Save the Children is a global movement, focused on helping the most vulnerable and marginalized children in the UK and around the world. The British government has a proud history of supporting international development and we will continue to work closely with them to uphold the interests of every last child, wherever they are."
ARCHIBISHOPS, CHURCH OF ENGLAND
"As citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever our views during the referendum campaign, we must remain hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers. Many of those living among us and alongside us as neighbors, friends and work colleagues come from overseas and some will feel a deep sense of insecurity. We must respond by offering reassurance, by cherishing our wonderfully diverse society, and by affirming the unique contribution of each and every one."
VICKIE HAWKINS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MÉDECINS SANS FRONTIÈRES/ DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS UK
"Regardless of whether the UK is in the EU or not, the Government must not forget that it still has a moral and legal responsibility to ensure people fleeing war and violence can find safety. The UK, as well as all European Governments, must urgently increase the proper management of refugee claims in Europe. This is the only solution that will not leave to an unacceptable level of suffering and Brexit has not changed this. If anything, today's decision puts a greater responsibility on the British Government's shoulders and they must now use their own agency to take action."
MIKE PENROSE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF UNICEF UK
"Unicef UK will continue to work with the Government and UK civil society to make sure that the UK retains its position as a world leader in supporting children internationally, in emergencies, and in the UK. Whether it be tackling poverty, or our role in helping vulnerable refugees in Europe and the world; we must not falter in our commitment to helping vulnerable children wherever they may be."
TIM PILKINGTON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF WORLD VISION UK
"Following a divisive campaign, we need to return to a unified and confident government that stays influential on the world stage and continues to push for reforms which benefit children in the world's toughest countries. There are many unanswered questions about Brexit but, in the meantime, we'll continue working alongside the UK Government to champion the rights of children and to shape policies that achieve this. The Prime Minister spoke in his resignation speech about keeping promises to the world's poorest people. We believe this is a proud UK tradition and part of the very fabric of British society – not a sentiment that will change because of a referendum."
(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, global land rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, women's rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org to see more stories)