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Syria vigil planned as refugee support grows

A SILENT vigil for refugees fleeing Syria will take place at Lerwick’s Market Cross next weekend as support for the thousands of people trying to escape the war zone grows throughout Shetland.

The Facebook page Shetland Solidarity with Refugees has attracted over 1,300 followers in 24 hours since being launched on Thursday afternoon by Lerwick woman Tina Grant.  

Meanwhile Shetland Islands Council said they were ready to act if a call went out from government after a top level crisis meeting is held on Friday.

Grant said she started the page in response to growing calls on social media for someone to do something in the islands to help the refugees after news images of a three year old boy washing up on a Turkish beach spread anguish across the globe.

Already fundraising events to raise money to send to CalAid, who are helping refugees in the French port town of Calais, have already been organised, starting with a blues and poetry concert on Friday night (4 September) at The Booth in Hillswick starting at 8pm.

The Sunday teas at Levenwick hall on Sunday 13 September will raise funds for the French international aid organisation Médicins Sans Frontiéres.

Burra public hall is open from Friday until Sunday for people to drop off essential items to help the people in Calais.

A further drop off point is being set up at The Booth in Hillswick.  

On Monday the five women administrating the Shetland Solidarity Facebook page will meet to discuss how to take the campaign forward.

Jeanette Nowak from Yell whose awareness raising efforts on Facebook inspired Grant to act, said she was delighted someone was doing something.

“I have been agitating for a wee while waiting for some other body to actually do something, and I think a lot of people in Shetland feel quite relieved that someone has done something about it,” she said.

“Now we’ve started people are asking so many questions about what’s going to happen, so we’re going to have a meeting so that we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet.”

The Shetland sees Syria vigil from 12-1pm on Saturday 12 September will coincide similar vigils being held across Scotland, including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Orkney.

SIC convener Malcolm Bell said the council was ready to do what it could to provide help and support to the refugees.

“The heartbreaking images we saw earlier this week have obviously focussed everyone’s attention sharply on this unfolding humanitarian crisis,” he said.

“Shetland Islands Council is ready to work with the Scottish and UK governments to do all we can.

“We await the outcome of the first minister’s summit meeting and the prime minister’s announcement on the issue later today.”