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Europe's refugee crisis: five ways you can help

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Over the past few weeks, it’s been impossible not to be affected by the news stories and pictures of people desperately trying to find refuge in Europe. If you want to help here are five practical ways to instantly make a difference:

Provide medical aid to refugees
According to the UN, Syria’s brutal civil war has caused 11million people to flee their homes. A further three million people have been displaced by the Islamic State in Iraq while war and human rights abuses have caused many to escape Somalia and Eritrea. Médecins Sans Frontières work in war zones and refugee camps around the world providing vital free medical care. Make a donation here msf.org.uk/make-a-donation

Stop deaths at sea
The Med has become a flashpoint as refugees attempt to enter Europe via Italy, Greece and Turkey. The problem is many of these sea crossings are operated by criminal gangs, cramming people onto unsafe vessels in the hope authorities will pick them up. In 2013, Christopher and Regina Catrambone used their private funds to set up the Mobile Offshore Aid Station. Staffed by a team of rescuers and paramedics, the organisation has three boats and a helicopter specifically to undertake search and rescue operations. To support them go to moas.eu/donate

Support the Calais migrants
There are currently 3,000 migrants in makeshift camps at Calais trying to gain entry to the UK. Many grassroots movements – from students driving vans to London pub the Coach & Horses - have sprung up on JustGiving; they are raising money to drive vans filled with food, tents, clothes and basics (such as toothbrushes and sanitary items). Others are donating toys, bikes and books. Visit about.justgiving.com/content/calais-migrant-crisis or you can buy crucial items from the Help Calais & Greece Amazon wishlist supported by Dawn O’Porter which is sending supplies to Calais on 17 September.

Make your voice heard

The EU’s 28 countries are currently at loggerheads on how to deal with the crisis. Leading the response is Germany which is taking in 800,000 migrants this year while 780 Germans have signed up to ‘Air BnB for refugees’ offering their homes to people in need. In Iceland, 12,000 people have signed a petition to demand their government takes in more refugees (39 have been allowed entry in the past five years). If you feel the UK should be doing more, the Refugee Council suggests you contact your MP to call on the PM. Visit act.refugeecouncil.org.uk

Stop the stereotypes
Charities such as the Red Cross are working to change the language surrounding the crisis – there’s no such thing as an ‘illegal asylum seeker’. They want people to send them good (and bad) news stories for fact-checking; ask any questions at getthestorystraight@redcross.org.uk and use #factsnotfear. Visit redcross.org.uk

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