NI supply convoy is bound for refugees on Greek island of Kos

Migrants and refugees in a rubber dinghy arriving on the beach at Psalidi near Kos Town, Kos, Greece on August 21, 2015
Migrants and refugees in a rubber dinghy arriving on the beach at Psalidi near Kos Town, Kos, Greece on August 21, 2015

An aid convoy to help ease the refugee crisis on the Greek island of Kos is leaving Northern Ireland in two weeks’ time.

Five lorries filled with supplies of food, clothes and shelter are being taken to the Greek island Kos where thousands of displaced people fleeing war in the Middle East and Africa have sought sanctuary.

Colin Loughran, a co-ordinator with Refugee Crisis Appeal NI, said: “We’re doing this because this is Europe’s largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

“Refugees are arriving in Kos with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. Many face long walks, during winter months to reach their final destinations throughout Europe.”

Donation collection centres have been set up across Northern Ireland as well as in the border counties of Louth and Donegal. An online fundraising appeal also hopes to generate up to £10,000.

Mr Loughran said volunteers would be working with charities on the ground in Greece to distribute the aid and were particularly focused on helping women and children.

“There is obviously a massive amount of goodwill; the group is trying to focus efforts, coordinating donations and organising transport. So far, five, 40 ft lorries have been confirmed to transport the aid and two central sorting depots are functioning.

“The aim is to bring all Kos aid donated to a central sorting depot in Ballymena, Co Antrim for packing before shipping a convoy to Greece at the end of September.

“The time scale is ambitious as the aid is needed urgently,” he said.

The Kos aid convoy is part of a groundswell of public action in response to the crisis.

Last week Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK could take up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years while Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the region could accommodate at least 2,000 displaced people.

In Dublin, the government has also announced plans to accept 4,000 people.

For more information log on to the following address: www.facebook.com/groups/RefugeeCrisisAppeal .

Some of the established aid agencies helping in the crisis include the Red Cross (www.redcross.org.uk), and Doctors Without Borders (www.doctorswithoutborders.org)