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Refugee crisis: Belfast vigil planned as Lord Mayor Arder Carson calls for compassion and generosity

The Lord Mayor of Belfast Arder Carson has called on the city’s residents to show support for people caught up in the refugee crisis engulfing Europe.

The Lord Mayor said huge attendance at a vigil on Monday at Belfast City Hall at 5pm will underline the city’s reputation for compassion and generosity and willingness to help others.

The call comes after he hosted a meeting on Friday morning, with a range of charitable and other organisations working to alleviate the situation, to discuss what Belfast as a city could do to help.

During the vigil there will be an opportunity to donate to the various charitable organisations during a collection. Details on how to contribute through the charities will also be provided.

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The vigil will followed by a special meeting of Belfast City Council at 6pm to discuss the crisis. 

The Lord Mayor said: "These are real people, it is a humanitarian tragedy, and the untold suffering that they are enduring in the 21st century is almost beyond belief. This has been going on for a considerable time but was brought into sharper focus by some of the images that we have all seen in recent days.

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"We have consulted with the agencies working with the refugees and they have made it clear that it is too difficult logistically to send goods such as blankets, clothes and food, what is really required is money.

"We want to send out a message that the people of Belfast want to help, we are a compassionate and generous people and we want to do whatever we can to help alleviate this suffering through financial donations and providing a welcome to those who need our help.

"And this cannot be about a single response to this issue which we then forget about. It needs to be ongoing and sustainable and we as the political leader of the city need to consider what we can do to support refugees already here on an ongoing basis as well as those that may come in future weeks and months.

"I hope we get a huge turn out on Monday and I am only proceeding with it after being assured by the agencies involved that this event can send out a powerful message that Belfast is a warm, caring, welcoming city, Our people are ready and willing to do their bit in alleviating one of the worst humanitarian crises that we have ever seen."

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