A GRASSROOTS charity set up in the wake of the refugee crisis a year ago has launched a drive to raise £25,000 to fund a truck to send donations of clothes and goods to camps in Europe.
Edinburgh-based Re-Act, which was launched by a group of friends following the news of people from war-torn countries including Syria and Iraq landing on beaches in Greek islands after risking their lives in the Aegean Sea, has so far shipped 600 tonnes of clothing to people living in refugee camps in mainland Europe.
Now the organisation needs to buy a truck to cut back on the high costs of transporting the goods in a shipping container. A volunteer who recently spent time helping refugees on the beaches in Greece has paid for the truck up front, but the organisation needs to repay the cost.
The group, which collects donations from the public at its base at Studio 24 – the Calton Road nightclub run by Re-Act’s co-founder Gill McArthur – says the truck will allow them to reach crisis-hit areas in three or four days and will cost around one-sixth of the price of a container delivery. Currently, shipping containers cost around £5000 per shipment and can take up to six weeks to arrive at their destination.
Ms McArthur, who has travelled to Europe to help refugees on a number of occasions, said: “We have been delivering aid, paying other transport companies for a year and costs are huge. We started this after seeing pleas for help and a need for certain things, so we collect the aid as soon as we can, but sometimes delivery can take over two months.
“This way, if an area is in crisis, if we have aid we can leave immediately and not wait until we have enough to fill a container. Also, having a truck helps deliver larger items like furniture to families arriving here in Scotland at very little cost.”
She added: “This crisis isn’t getting smaller or better anytime soon and as we are in a position to help and keep collecting – now we can ensure we carry on and do more.”
An estimated 11 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of the civil war in March 2011, while people in other countries including Iraq and Afghanistan are also trying to escape persecution in their home countries.
Many of them are living in temporary refugee camps in Europe and the Middle East.
Re-Act hopes to raise £25,000 in total to cover the £18,954 cost of the truck plus tax, insurance and other running costs. Any extra money will go towards fuel costs, which can reach £350 to drive to the Thessaloniki camp in northern Greece, where many refugees are stranded after arriving by boat from Turkey.