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People urged to donate clothes to help stranded refuge

CHILD (Community Help In the Local District) is calling for donations to help send a container of clothing to the hundreds of thousands of refugees stranded in camps in Europe and the Middle East.
 
The local charity has linked up with Hands of Help, an organisation administering aid to refugees in camps in Yemen and Syria and closer to home in countries like Greece and France.
 
Hands of Help works closely with Care UK, a charity set up in the wake of the death of little Aylun Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach in 2015.
 
In the past four years Care UK has sent countless containers of aid, mainly clothes and food, to Syria, Greece and more recently Yemen.
 
The crisis in Yemen is still unfolding but recent figures put the death toll of children from starvation at 90,000 in the past four years.
 
Aiden Crawford is a former regional president of St Vincent de Paul. As a co-ordinator of Hands of Help, he now focuses all his energies on getting aid to refugees. Hands of Help is one of the few organisations to get a container of aid into Yemen but Mr Crawford said much more is needed.
 
“At one stage we had 40 containers to go to different parts of the world, carrying food, clothing, whatever was needed.
 
“But the death toll of children from starvation in Yemen alone now stands at around the 90,000 mark so much more needs to be done. That is why we are concentrating on Yemen and Syria at the moment.”
 
Outlining some of the items in very short supply, Aiden Crawford said they are looking for clothing of all sizes, shoes and nappies. And as the winter approaches, coats will also be needed.
 
“At the end of the day, you have to remember that to people who have nothing, everything is something,” he said.
 
“What people don’t realise is that it can get very cold in these places in the winter.  
 
“For example in Greece it got down to -26 last year so clothes, particularly jumpers and coats are absolutely vital. Nappies are another big one because in some of these places you have little children walking around wearing plastic bags. These are the everyday items that we badly need.”
 
Mr Crawford added that the North West has always been hugely generous when it comes to donating aid.
 
“The people in the North West have always been very good to us and having CHILD behind us is unbelievable. I can’t sing their praises enough because they aren’t one of those organisations to help out as a one off, they keep going and keep helping. It’s amazing, it really is.”
 
Rita Wilson of CHILD said donations of clothing and shoes are currently being accepted with a view to sending a container across to Care UK and by extension on to the many thousands of people displaced as a result of war.
 
“Having seen some of the footage from these refugee camps, it is absolutely heartbreaking. We want to do what we can to help and that is why we are inviting donations. No matter how small, we will make sure it reaches those who need it,” Mrs Wilson said.
 
* Donations can be left into CHILD’s headquarters on the Railway Road, Strabane, where a volunteer will be on hand to help. You can also check out the CHILD Facebook page.
 
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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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