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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 20 February, 2020
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Trucks, vans and cars: Irish aid convoy to help migrants prepares to set sail

“I suppose I couldn’t just sit back and not do anything.”

Calais migrant crisis Refugees from Kuwait enjoy a cigarette in the tent at the camp in Calais, also known as the New Jungle. Source: Empics Entertainment

THE ORGANISERS OF an Irish aid convoy to Calais preparing to depart later this month say interest in the project has “mushroomed” in recent weeks.

The Ireland Calais Refugee Society has set up a GoFundMe page, and local Facebook pages have been set up for people signing up to the initiative around the country.

Tracey Ryan, a mother-of-one from Cork, is spearheading the project.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, she said Nolan Transport had donated an articulated truck for use by the group with another on standby.

cal2 Source: GoFundMe

The convoy – which also includes around 20 vans and ten to fifteen cars – will set sail from Rosslare on 29 September, arriving into Cherbourg the following day.

“We are going to stay on the camp now for a week and volunteer,” Tracey explained.

“We’re building some structures in the camp… There are people coming who are going to build some structures.”

Once the vehicles have been emptied the volunteers plan to do “a couple of food distributions during the week” – heading to local wholesalers and supermarkets, and putting together individual food parcels for people at the camp.

“100% of everything you donate on GoFundMe will go towards buying supplies – no middle men and logistical costs,” another organiser explained online.

Winter clothes

The volunteers are also collecting items at locations around the country. A particular appeal is being made for the following:

  • Tarpaulin
  • Heavy duty Rubbish bags
  • Tents: 4 person + 
  • Blankets and sleeping bags
  • Men’s clothes: specifically, small to medium to sized warm clothes. Shoes, runners 
  • Candles, torches
  • Men’s toiletries
  • Tools for fixing bikes, pumps, puncture repair kits.

Fundraisers are being held over the next few weeks, including one in Cork tonight, and Tracey is urging anyone who wants to get involved to contact their local group. Details are available via this central Facebook group. 

trac Source: Tracey Ryan/Facebook

“I’ve been looking online over the last few weeks looking at the images and I suppose I couldn’t just sit back and not do anything,” Tracey said.

“We were discussing it online and I suppose things go viral very quickly these days.

“I think those images of the children that have been shared in the last day has just really spiraled this out, all over the country.”

Around 25 local groups have sprung up – and the volunteers have decided to focus their energy on Calais after assessing that it was where their efforts would have most impact in the short term.

They’re also looking at trying to ship aid to Hungary, Tracey said.

If you want to get involved, you’ll find a link to the GoFundMe here and the public Facebook group here.

Read: These are the smiling faces of Aylan and Galip Kurdi, the two brothers who drowned trying to reach Europe >

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