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Refugee group seeks donation of foodstuffs

Syrian refugees fleeing to safety in the Mediterranean. Photo by Freedom House with Creative Commons approval.

THE SHETLAND Solidarity with Refugees group has renewed its appeal for donations amid a “drastic” food shortage faced by those seeking sanctuary in Western Europe.

Donations can be taken to Brevik House on Lerwick’s South Road on Wednesday and Friday this week between 12.30pm-2.30pm and 5pm-6.30pm – with a particular need for non-perishable food items including rice, beans, tinned fruit and vegetables, dried fruit and protein bars.

Rita Smith of Shetland Solidarity with Refugees said the group was hoping to collect enough goods to ship to Calais in the next few weeks. Although the so-called “Jungle” camp in northern France was dismantled in November 2016, refugees continue to gather in the town.

“Nothing has changed for the refugees,” Rita said. “If anything for some it might be a degree worse. Six years of conflict have left unknown numbers of men, women and children struggling to survive.

“Millions fled to other countries in the Far East but a huge amount requested asylum in Europe. They are in limbo with no sign of a possible solution.

The items being sought by Shetland Solidarity with Refugees.

“The closing down of the Calais camp wasn’t a good or fruitful move. Refugees are still arriving at Calais in the hope of getting across to Britain.

“When the camp was there it was far from ideal, but at least volunteers and charitable agencies go in and provide food, clothing and some support. Some people even felt they were part of a community, albeit a pretty grim one.

“Some have gone to a camp in Dunkirk and several smaller camps further afield, some have travelled to Paris, but all around France refugees are living in streets, fields and forests with absolutely nothing.

“Some charities have faced harsh treatment from the French police when trying to provide for the vulnerable, the police destroy any makeshift camps or gatherings and disperse refugees waiting at feeding stations.

“So once more they are on the move with nowhere to go. Shetland Solidarity with Refugees are keen to keep supporting various charities in any way we can. Money we’ve raised has been sent to Care4Calais who are still struggling to look to people.”

Another charity, ReAct, who the Shetland group had been sending aid to has lost its storage facility in Edinburgh, but Rita hopes the latest collection – around four pallet loads – can be shipped through the Highlands Supports Refugees group.

“This latest request for help and donations is just for food. Care4Calais put out an urgent plea for various food items they desperately need, things like rice, canned vegetables and fruit, high protein bars and biscuits, spices etc.”

She added: “People can of course contact the above charities online and donate money directly. Once again we are truly grateful for the kindness and generosity of you all who donate, it’s only with your help that we can manage this, thank you.”

  • Shetland Solidarity with Refugees will be accepting donations at Brevik House in Lerwick between 12.30pm-2.30pm and 5pm-6.30pm on Wednesday and Friday this week. You can also contact Rita Smith directly on 07768 249868 to arrange drop-offs.