The Refugee Action group in St Andrews have recently raised over £1000 for the Greek charity, Faros.
The money was collated via a variety of events hosted by the society, such as a gig night and a raffle. The charity receiving the £1,066.73 donation, Faros, which is based in Athens was set up in order to provide assistance to the many unaccompanied minors who make the journey across the Mediterranean and land on Greek islands.
The charity states on their website that “thousands” of such refugees arrive on the island of Lesbos in particular, where they are living in conditions affected by “overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and inadequate access to food, healthcare and shelter”.
The money will be used to purchase and distribute emergency bags, which are handed to refugee minors and usually contain a scarf and a hat for the cold, underwear, some cereal bars, soap, hygiene products, a toy, as well as a first aid kit.
Faros is running low on said emergency bags and therefore it is the hope of Refugee Action that through raising money supply of these bags are replenished.
Andreas Papamichail, member of Refugee Action, said that the society chose this particular charity because it was an “established” organisation, providing confidence that it will sustain work long-term and not “run out of steam.”
Prior to raising the funds, members of the society visited Faros’ base in Athens where they were “impressed with the work that they do” to provide refugee children a safe space where they can “be children.”
Refugee Action was set up in September 2015 out of a “frustration at the inadequacy and inhumanity of the response within Europe to the refugee and migrant flows across the Mediterranean.”
The group was then borne out of a wide outpouring of individuals and other groups who shared this concern.
On Europe’s response to the migration crisis, Mr Papamichail said that it was the society’s belief that not enough had been done. In fact, according to the society it is “disgraceful for one of the wealthiest regions in the world to close their borders,” to asylum seekers.
“Providing safe means of passage to refugees is vital. These are people that have had to leave everything behind because of conflict and the flows of refugees will not stop until it is safe for them to remain in, or return to, their home countries.”
He argued that: “Europe needs a fair relocation system, that doesn’t place the entire burden of the influx of people on the countries on the border of the EU, such as Greece.
“Spread out over the EU, the flows of refugees can absolutely be absorbed by the member countries.
“Those claiming that it is too expensive, or too destabilising to do so, are making a political decision disguised as rationality.
“The means are there to provide for these families.”
Going on, Mr Papamichail said “We intend to continue with various fundraising activities to keep supporting organisations like Faros, and to continue to foster and develop our links with other groups and societies.”
Mr Papamichail also praised the students of St Andrews, saying “we’ve been overwhelmed by the support and help from people around St Andrews, from students holding their own fundraising events to local businesses supporting us with venues for events and raffle prizes.”
In future the society plans to hold many further fundraising and awareness events, such as a collaborative project with the Fine Food & Dining Society for a “Syrian Food Night” later this month.
In addition they hope to hold various educational events to “draw on the academic community and St Andrews’ strengths as a university town.”