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Aid convoy set to leave Ulster for Kos

Published 14/09/2015

Many of the refugees have only the clothes they are wearing (AP)
Many of the refugees have only the clothes they are wearing (AP)

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 vital supplies of food, clothing and shelter are being taken to the Greek island of 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 growing migrant crisis.

On Saturday more than 1,000 people took party in a refugee solidarity rally at Belfast City Hall.

Speaking ahead of the event, Patrick Corrigan, from Amnesty International, said: "We can only solve this crisis with co-operation and solidarity across Europe.

"The demonstration is an act of solidarity with men, women and children who find themselves fleeing for their lives from bombs, bullets and brutality."

Similar demonstrations were also staged in Londonderry and Omagh.

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 fleeing conflict.

For more information log on to www.facebook.com/groups/RefugeeCrisisAppeal or donate via the link https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/shauna-hughes-1.

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