Edinburgh Direct Aid launches campaign for new donations for Syrian refugees

A CHARITY which helps more than 70,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon has launched a renewed drive for donations after securing extra funding.

Tuesday, 6th September 2016, 8:37 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th September 2016, 9:49 am
Edinburgh Direct Aid in Granton prepare a shipping container with clothing donations going to Lebanon. Picture; Greg Macvean.

Edinburgh Direct Aid (EDA) sent its seventh shipping container, filled with ten tonnes of vital clothing and equipment, to the Arsal refugee camp yesterday courtesy of the Qatari Red Crescent organisation, which has agreed to pay the transport fees.

Previously, the charity was forced to pay the £3000 shipping costs out of its own pocket, meaning there was a limit on the amount of donations that could be sent.

Now, however, with QRC agreeing to cover the cost, EDA is putting out a fresh call for warm winter clothing to assist those in Arsal living in makeshift tents at temperatures plummeting as low as -10C in the winter months.

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“QRC told us they would be interested in finding a way to help us send more aid to those in need, particularly in Arsal,” said the charity’s chairman Denis Rutovitz.

“We asked if they would cover our transport costs so that we would be able to send more containers, and they were quite keen.

“We’ve had a big uptake in the number of volunteers and even the amount of donations we’ve had in the wake of this, but we’d still like to send more clothing to those who need it.”

Padded jackets, fleeces, thermals, boots and basic medical supplies such as painkillers, plasters and disinfectants are all needed.

Sewing machines and stationery are also sought for the charity’s work and school projects in the town.

The container that left EDA’s Granton warehouse yesterday is expected to arrive in Beirut in around four weeks’ time, but may take another month to reach isolated Arsal, 80 miles north of the Lebanese capital.

It will make the short journey to Grangemouth before visiting Felixstowe and Amsterdam ahead of arriving in Lebanon.

Ann Thanisch, who first became involved with the charity shortly after the first shipment was sent to Lebanon, believes the collections have evolved over time.

“In the short term it was all about immediate aid, but when it becomes clear that people aren’t going to be moved, you start thinking longer-term,” she said.

“We started the Arsal project collecting food but then it became about trying to make the quality of life better for the people there.

“That’s why we have the school and work programmes, which are helping them survive with a decent education or income, but the material needs are still there.”