What Not To Donate To A Refugee Camp

A cake stand, crockery and some high heels were among the items donated for refugees by residents in Kent

What Not To Donate To A Refugee Camp

by Vicky Spratt |
Published on

As the refugee crisis worsens, people from across the country have been getting together to collect much needed supplies. These are then sent off to ‘The Jungle’, the name given to the camp outside of Calais which has become a temporary home for around 3,000-4,000 men, and about 350 women and children, among other camps throughout Europe.

They’ve been sending essentials mostly: tinned food, blankets, tooth brushes, soap, sanitary towels and tampons.

The people of the Royal Borough of Tunbridge Wells, however, had some rather strange ideas about what refugees in the sprawling maze of tents, tarpaulin and overflowing portaloos might need. They lived up to the posh status of their postcode by donating a haul of luxury goods which can’t really be deemed essential, necessary or, even, particularly useful.

Apparently, gifts from residents of the affluent Kent town for the Calais camp included a cake stand, a ball gown, and a China tea set. Also, among the items left at a local donation drive were stilettos, wine glasses and tennis rackets.

The area's local paper, the Kent and Sussex Courier, acknowledged that while these items might have meant some lols and light relief for the volunteers at the collection centre, tennis rackets and stilettos are unlikely to be of much use to refugees fleeing from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq as well as the African nations of Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia.

Mismanaged efforts at altruism aren’t helpful. Everyday conditions in ‘The Jungle’ are reportedly as dehumanising as its name would suggest. Sanitation ranges from bad to worse, more people are arriving every day and diseases such as gangrene and dysentery are common.

Valentina Osborn, founder of aid organisation RefugEase, told the Courier: ‘Ninety-nine per cent of the donations were right on the money and were perfect for immediate use in Europe. We did, however, wonder how some of the things we found in the piles arrived.

‘The refugees are facing very unpredictable conditions for a number of weeks as they travel across Europe,’ she added. ‘Most have spent nights in the open rain and storms, followed by days in the scorching sun.’

It’s unlikely that refugees at ‘The Jungle’ or elsewhere across Europe will be needing high heels, crockery or cake stands for some time and donating goods is just one way to help and do your bit for the crisis, but reports from the camp suggest that many unwanted goods are actually just piling up.

There are other ways to make a difference. Various charities and organisations are accepting donations which go towards the services they are already providing.

If you want to donate £9 to Unicef, for example, this will provide a much needed emergency water kit for a family.

A donation to Save the Children of £50 could buy two hygiene kits including soap, towels and toothbrushes.

£30 to the British Red Crosswill buy 28 mats to help Syrian refugees in cold conditions.

You might also be interested in:

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UK Set To Let In More Refugees. Thank God.

The Reality Of Being A 20-Something Female Refugee In Greece

Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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