Churches Together in Cornwall have put together some suggestions of how Churches Together groups might help the present refugee crisis. Many within Churches Together Groups are concerned but don’t know what to do, regarding action to support and be of assistance towards the present refugee crisis – and are therefore looking for some sort of guidance. The Calais crisis seems to be so inundated with clothes, food, tents, that those working in the Calais Camp situation have requested no more at this time.
Donations and offers of help:
ShelterBox, Cornwall’s own international disaster relief charity, is working to improve conditions in refugee transit camps on the Greek islands. Further information and the opportunity to donate can be found at www.shelterbox.org 0300 0300 500
Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support welcomes donations and provides opportunities to volunteer at www.dcrsc1.cfsites.org 01752 265952
National organisations – providing information and opportunities to offer support include:
the UN refugee agency 0203 7619500;
the British Red Cross 020 7562 2050
the Refugee Council 020 7346 6700
the Refugee Action 0207 952 1511
Voice your support – Residents have launched a petition to show Cornwall’s support for refugees which is available at www.freepetition.co.uk/cornwall/petition/refugeeswelcome
Government’s announcement on refugees from Syria
Home Office website www.gov.uk/government/organisations/home-office
Refugee Council: www.refugeecouncil.org.uk
United Nations Refugee Agency: The Facts: Asylum in the UK.
Refugee Week: facts about refugees
Christian Aid – Refugee Crisis Appeal
Focus on the need, not the numbers
The media of late has been full of stories of desperate people arriving in Europe, with the press focus largely concentrating on the growing numbers, rather than the conflict, injustice and oppression from which many are escaping.
The public debate which has accompanied such graphic depictions of human need is evidence of how uncomfortable the scenes have made us feel as a nation. But in truth, the reaction of many in the UK, Ireland and elsewhere in Europe has been far from sympathetic.
The language frequently used to describe those seeking entry to European countries, particularly the numbers stranded in Calais as they try to reach the UK, has been deplorable, both derogatory and de-humanising.
Each year millions of people globally are forced to flee their homes due to violence, conflict and disaster. Most remain displaced within their own countries, but millions of others must cross borders to reach safety, the majority even then remaining in the developing world, hosted by some of the poorest countries in the world.
What we do
It is not a new phenomenon – Christian Aid was founded 70 years ago to assist refugees and the displaced in Europe following the Second World War.
Today we support those affected by war and violence in numerous countries, including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia, providing practical assistance through local organisations embedded in their communities.
Through their aid budgets, the UK, Ireland and other governments are also contributing significantly to help refugees and the displaced in various parts of the world.
But the need to address the root causes of refugee flows and the migration of the desperate – conflict, inequality and the impacts of climate change, to name but three – has never been greater.
Many of our local partners are working to tackle violence, build peace and improve governance in the communities where they are based. We support them too in campaigning for justice in areas such as climate change and tax abuse, which exacerbate poverty and require political will to tackle.
While the main focus of our work is in developing countries, we recognise this is not the whole picture, and stand in solidarity with churches and others providing practical support for refugees and migrants in the UK and Ireland.
In Europe, we work with partners in the ACT Alliance and other agencies to support practical and political action to help those fleeing, and address the longer term issues.
We urge governments to play a full and constructive role in efforts to find safe routes, and provide adequate support for refugees world-wide. And we appeal to them to meet fully their own international, legal obligations to all those affected, respecting their universal rights and demonstrating care and compassion rather than just being driven by alarmist headlines at home.
How you can help
Donate now to support refugees in Europe and to help people in the countries they are fleeing from, please donate to our Refugee Crisis Appeal here.
Those specifically wishing to support work in Calais might wish to contact Caritas France (Secours Catholique).
A full statement about the refugee crisis from the Act Alliance-EU can be found here.
Act Alliance partners working on the crisis include, in Greece, the organisation International Orthodox Christian Charities which is providing food and non-food items, and improving conditions at reception centres, as well as undertaking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activities on the islands of Chios, Samos, and Kos. In August alone, an average of 2,100 refugees were arriving on the three Greek islands of Chios, Samos and Lesvos every day. The total number of refugees in Greece is now more than 160,000.
In Hungary, Hungarian Interchurch Aid is providing refugees on the border with non-food items, and has to date helped more than 5,500 people. There are estimates that around 1,500 people are crossing each day.
In Serbia, Philanthropy, the charitable foundation of the Serbian Orthodox Church, is providing food, hygiene and baby kits, shelter and sanitary containers, plus winterisation supplies (firewood, clothes and boots), and psychosocial support. It is helping an estimated 1,000 refugees a day.