Wednesday 26 October 2016

Five things you can do from Ireland to help Syrian refugees

Geraldine Gittens

Published 07/09/2015 | 14:21

A migrant family from Syria is seen outside a refugee camp at the fair ground of Munich, Germany September 7, 2015. Reuters/Michaela Rehle
A migrant family from Syria is seen outside a refugee camp at the fair ground of Munich, Germany September 7, 2015. Reuters/Michaela Rehle

The impact of the crisis in Syria, now in its fifth year, has been devastating. The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has increased twelvefold from 1 million in 2012 to 12.2 million in 2015. This is the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War Two, according to Unicef, and now the human tragedy is spilling over into Europe. Some 80 per cent of the refugees trying to get into the EU are Syrian.

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Five things you can do to help in this refugee crisis:

  • Donate clothing items and other materials:

Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity has posted a list of priority clothing items and materials you can donate. Currently, items of male clothing are badly needed.

For a list of available drop-off points, see here

"At Calais, there is a smaller population of women and children, and their needs are being met," said an organiser from Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity.

The solidarity movement is in regular contact with the French NGO Auberge des Migrants, which has been providing practical assistance on the ground in Calais.

Truck companies, both small and large, have donated trucks and vans to carry the cargo which will travel out to Calais on October 1.

GOAL is asking people to donate specific, and preferably new, items: blankets or quilts (single or double); sleeping bags; bed sheets, pillow and quilt covers; adult and children’s jackets; thermal socks, hats, scarves and new underwear; plastic floor carpets; and adult and children’s waterproof boots.

The items should be dropped to any one of Topaz’s participating service stations across the country in the coming days. Turkish Airlines has volunteered to fly the cargo to Turkey, where they will be distributed to vulnerable Syrian families in Turkey and Syria through GOAL’s network of partners on the ground.

  • Donate money

You can donate to GOAL here; by telephoning 01-902 9444; or by posting a cheque, cash or bank draft to GOAL, PO Box 19, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. GOAL’s humanitarian response programme in Syria is already the largest in its history. In 2014, GOAL directly assisted over 700,000 Syrian victims of the conflict. In 2015 it will assist almost one million every month with food rations, food vouchers, safe water, sanitation and hygiene.

Over €56,000 has been donated to the Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity fund so far to buy supplies for the refugee camps.

You can donate here to the Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity Go Fund Me page.

Tracey Ryan, a Cork mother-of-one, set up Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity last month. She told that any excess materials which are not needed in Calais will then be sent to Hungary.

"If people keep donating, we're working with people on getting the same set-up that's in Calais, in Hungary."

"If people can still donate, the more money they give, the more we can help in that camp."

"We'll be doing a huge food distribution, and any funds we get in will be used for that."

Trocaire is responding to the growing needs of extremely vulnerable refugees in partnership with Caritas Serbia and has allocated €100,000 so far to provide sleeping bags and raincoats, hygiene kits, health services and psychosocial support. 

People can donate to Trócaire's work with refugees from Syria by calling 1850 408 408 or visiting

Trócaire also works with partners in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Somalia, which are burdened by protracted conflicts and in Jordan and Lebanon, countries which are hosting 1.75 million Syrian refugees."

You can donate to Unicef here. UNICEF is providing children in Syria and the surrounding countries with clean drinking water, health care, education opportunities and the psychosocial support they need to flourish.  Just €23 could provide clean water for a child for a month, while €99 could allow a deeply traumatised child to attend play therapy and work through the trauma they’ve experienced, Unicef says.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) are on the ground in the areas that refugees are arriving at in Europe. You can make a donation on their website or by calling their freephone number 1800 905 509.

  • Sign a petition:

People can sign Trocaire's petition here to ask the Taoiseach to recall the Dáil to respond to the crisis.

  • Pledge a bed:

Those interested in pledging a bed for a Syrian refugee family can do so via Uplift

The Bishop of Elphin today called on parishes in his diocese to begin identifying suitable accommodation that could be made available to refugees when they reach Ireland.

Speaking on Today with Sean O'Rourke, Bishop Kevin Doran said he was asking priests to engage with parishioners to identify places that are available, “be it a vacant house or a granny flat”.

  • Day of Action on the Refugee Crisis

Next Saturday September 12, thousands are expected to attend a rally in Dublin as part of the European Day of Action. There will be a demonstration at 2pm near the Spire on Dublin’s O’Connell Street calling on the Government to take in more refugees.

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