Tuesday , 20 August 2019

Humanitarian crisis: how to help

Scotland says #RefugeesWelcome
Scotland says #RefugeesWelcome


People in Scotland, including LGBTI community, have said they would welcome refugees, and this has been also echoed by the Scottish Government.

Most, if not all, of us have been deeply moved by the photographs of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, his five-year-old brother Ghalib, his mother Rehanna and his devastated father, Abdullah. The worst possible tragedy befell this small Syrian Kurdish family fleeing from Kobane in their attempt to find a place of safety in which to live and thrive, in their case it was the Greek island of Kos.

These pictures triggered an outpouring of many differing emotions from people all over the world. Some of these emotions were unexpectedly hostile towards the refugees, but most were of sorrow for Alan, Ghalib and Rehanna, compassion for his father and of a desire to do something. They also served to galvanise immediate action by ordinary people in all parts of the world, but particularly in Scotland. Appeals went out for clothing, basic necessities, tents, medical supplies and food for all the refugees fleeing Syria and attempting to reach so many different places to escape war-torn Syria.

So many people are now asking, “What can we do to help?” There is much to do, not only in the short term, but in the medium and long term. Help of many kinds will be needed for a long time to come – the plight of the refugees from all war-torn zones will be ongoing for many months, even years!

Organisations have been set up, many of them on Social media such as Facebook. We will give a list of as many of these organisations as we can along with lists of exactly what is needed by the different agencies and, importantly, what is not needed at this point in time but maybe later.

What is being said by all emergency organisations is this: please do not attempt to drive yourselves over to Calais with cars and vans full of items. There are logistical reasons for this: too many cars and vans have already tried and have cause gridlocks in the traffic flow; the is not sufficient storage for all the items which are being taken, storage facilities are limited and this is currently being addressed by the erection of storage units.

An operational taskforce is now being established to co-ordinate Scotland’s practical response to the humanitarian refugee crisis following a summit convened by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh on Friday.

Here is what you can do:

  • Find a local collection or dropping off point in your own area for goods through one of the many links provided.
  • If you have suitable transport, offer help at one of the collection centres
  • If you have time on your hands, offer your help to sort out items at the collection centres
  • If you have particular skills – medical, building, carpentry etc. please get in touch with the appropriate organisations and offer your help.
  • Money is also needed to provide transport and fuel for the vehicles to transport items to their destinations. Crowd-funding has already been set up – look out for the links to where you can donate.
  • If you use Facebook please look for the various groups and collection points in your own area – there is a massive network already in process.
  • If you feel there is nothing you can do which is on this list (and there will be many who cannot do these things for various reasons) then please pray for the refugees, their families and all those good people who are offering help and who are offering a safe harbour, a Place of Safety: A Sanctuary.
  • Above all, be generous in your thoughts and in what you say. We have a responsibility to the world to be compassionate and open our hearts and minds to those who seek our help. Many of us, or our ancestors, were once strangers in a strange land – we were grateful that our country gave us Sanctuary and a place of safety where we could grow and thrive.

Abdullah has now laid his wife and his two sons to rest in Kobane: he was offered asylum in Canada following the tragedy but has chosen to stay in Kobane to be where his family is buried. May he find some peace in his heart and may Alan Ghalib and Rehanna Rest in Peace.

See below for a list of organisations and items needed:

What people in Scotland can do to help

Scottish Action for Refugees

Event: Glasgow see Syria

Migrant Offshore Aid Station

MOAS Fund-raising event

Fund-raising Event: Subversiv – Action for Refugees

Fund-raising Event: Scottish Action for Refugees

Edinburgh Direct Aid Warehouse

Smalls for All

Slings for Kos

Edinburgh Sling Meet (Mums with babies)

Join CalAid

Monifieth to Calais

Glasgow Caledonian University Students

Help from Helensburgh-Dumbarton-Lomond area

Calais Solidarity St Andrews

CalAid Burntisland

Solidarity Action from UK

More links will be added as they become available.

Lists currently being prepared along with one or two known drop-off points for donations.

About Rebekah Gronowski

Rebekah Gronowski
Rebekah is a Jewish campaigner for LGBTI rights, people with disabilities and other Human Rights issues, based in East Lothian. She has been a leading member at Sukkat Shalom, Edinburgh's Liberal Jewish Community, having been one of the founding members in the Community's early days. Rebekah is also member of 'Inclusion Scotland', an organisation for and run by people with disabilities. Co-Founder of the Scottish Rainbow Covenant for LGBT Jews in Scotland and a member of Rabbis for Human Rights, promoting peace and understanding between Palestinians and Jews. She is an Independent Interfaith Rabbi and Spiritual Minister, and was ordained in 2012. Rebekah has been very involved in Interfaith issues and has a particular interest in Ancient Near Eastern Religions and Earth Traditions.

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