Recently the Irish public has made thousands of offers of goods, services and accommodation to organisations and State bodies in response to the shocking circumstances of migrants arriving on European borders.
The Government plans to relocate 3,500 refugees over the next two years under its new Protection of Refugees Programme. On September 4, Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald asked the Irish Red Cross to collect all the offers of public support for victims of the migration crisis arriving in Ireland in the months and years ahead.
Barry O’Donovan from Bandon is the National Secretary for the Irish Red Cross and is currently part of the discussions with government on how to successfully handle this challenge. He gives West Cork People readers an update on the mammoth work the Red Cross is doing both at home and abroad in these refugees’ hour-of-need.
In recent months we have all seen the Migration Crisis unfold before our eyes. If truth-be-told, this is not a new ‘crisis’ but one that has been ongoing for years. However the recent surge in numbers has brought it into the media spotlight. The Red Cross has been working relentlessly to help in anyway we can. Much has been done but we have so much more to do, both internationally and here in our own country.
A question I hear often is, “What is the Red Cross doing?” Internationally we are on the ground in all the major areas affected. In Greece, the Red Cross has helped over 14,000 people to date by providing first aid, food parcels, water and social support. In the FYR of Macedonia we have seven mobile teams, each including a paramedic and a doctor, working around the clock since last June. The Red Cross is also on the ground in places such as Serbia, Hungry, Austria and Germany – providing care, support, food and helping to process the huge volume of registrations required for people entering the country.
These Red Cross volunteers are exactly that, volunteers. They are a group of people willing to give up their time, and in some instances risk their lives, to help others. To me they are heroes that work hard for the betterment of others. We should be extremely proud of them.
Another question is “What is the Red Cross doing here in Ireland to help with this crisis?” As you have seen and heard in media reports, the Irish Red Cross has been tasked with collating pledges of public support for victims of the migration crisis coming to Ireland. The government has asked us to do this as part of our role on its new Refugee Protection Taskforce.
We have been registering calls from people offering housing, down to rooms in their homes, and the response has been overwhelming. We Irish have done what we do best – we have opened our hearts and our homes and said to these refugees, “céad mile fáilte”!
It is not just support in the form of housing that has been registered with our office. People have offered childcare places in schools, English lessons, clothes, food and other forms of support. All for free! The list really is endless. People want to raise money for the appeal and have been doing table quizzes, busking events and cake sales, like the one that is happening this Sunday in Clonakilty Parish Centre. All to raise funds for the people caught up in this crisis.
The response to this crisis from the Irish people has been overwhelming and we would encourage people to please keep up the great work. We have much more to do and it is not possible without your support. If the past month is anything to go by, then we have no doubt that the amazing response will continue and the Red Cross will be able to continue its work to help others in need.
THANK YOU. Donations can be made by calling 1850 50 70 70 or at www.redcross.ie.