Trinity College Student’s Union has begun working in association with the main collection for Dublin (at Jigsaw, Belvedere Court) to act as a drop-off point for donations to refugees at Calais. Collections began last week, with Aifric Ní Chríodáin, students’ union communications and marketing officer telling Trinity News: “we were absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity of donors last Saturday.”
The students’ union began helping with donations amid a growing humanitarian crisis, with Europe seeing the largest population movement since the second world. In early August, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees claimed that 250,000 refugees have arrived in Europe by sea alone in 2015, with 124,000 arriving in Greece and 98,000 in Italy. This compares to 283,532 arrivals for the entirety of 2015.
The death of the three-year-old child,Aylan Kurdi, while attempting to reach Greece last week caused international outcry. It has led to a substantial increase in protests demanding action from politicians to tackle the crisis, with thousands turning out at the Famine memorial in Dublin last Saturday.
Current statistics indicate that the vast majority of those attempting to reach Europe are refugees fleeing from conflict or an oppressive regime. By August of 2015, 70% of arrivals have been from Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan.
TCDSU is collecting for the refugees currently camped at Calais in hoping to make use of the Eurotunnel to reach the United Kingdom. Ní Chríodáin explained that mens’ clothes are “particularly needed”, along with shoes, shampoo, blankets and tents. Some food, such as cooking oil, tinned kidney beans or rice would welcome as well.
Welcoming the announcement of the Irish government’s intention to accept 4,000 refugees, UNHCR associate Jody Clarke said yesterday that the government “did not have to [agree to relocate a number of refugees] but did.”
More donations will be brought to the central collection point tomorrow. Last week the students’ union collected “over 20 black bags full and filled the biggest taxi we could find to the brim before bringing it all over to Belvedere Court.”