The Migrant Crisis: What Can I do?

As I’m sure we are all well aware, Europe is currently facing the biggest migration crisis since the Second World War. The death toll rises daily, with 13 migrants killed in a boat crash Sunday morning and 26 missing when their boat sank. We also hear stories about the mistreatment of refugees once they arrive in Europe and families who have already gone through hell and back having to sleep in the open. The big question is what can we actually do to help? After all, we’re not politicians or influential business leaders, so is there really anything we can do?

One of the first and easiest ways to help migrants is to donate to charities who provide aid on the front line. Charities such as  Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross help to provide medical aid to both those trapped in Syria and those caught up in the migration crisis, with MSF already having provided first aid to 15,000 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean since May. Another organisation which is rescuing migrants is the Migrant Offshore Aid Station, a charity started by a business owner who was horrified when 400 migrants drowned near his home town of Lampedusa and subsequently bought a 40 metre search and rescue ship and decided to spend his time cruising the Mediterranean saving migrant lives. You can also support the United Nations High Commission for Refugees who are ‘working to protect new arrivals by ensuring they have access to asylum and emergency shelter, helping children travelling alone by providing specialist support and care, and stockpiling and preparing to distribute life-saving aid items such as warm blankets and clothing as winter approaches.’ Find all the links to donate to these charities at the bottom of this article.

The type of welcome we should be giving refugees. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP
Borrusia Dortmund fans displaying the type of welcome we should be giving refugees. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP

Another important way you can help the migrants is by showing solidarity and trying to petition the European governments to accept more refugees. If you are British you can sign this petition demanding the UK government to accept more asylum seekers, and Amnesty International has set up this petition asking the French government to provide more assistance to migrants both in France and throughout Europe. Solidarity marches are valuable ways to show support for migrants and to let the government know that migrants haven’t been forgotten. The past two Saturdays there have been solidarity marches in the Place de Nations and I attended one yesterday (video above). The turnout was unfortunately quite low due to heavy rain, but even so around 50 people turned up with posters, chanting in front of the United Nations, and it felt like we were finally doing something significant to help.

Photo: Alex Jones
Photo: Alex Jones

We expect students to want to take an active part in making their world a better place and one that is based on the mutual understanding, respect and shared values. – Ecolint’s vision for its students

A final way you can help is by housing asylum seekers. The Etablissement Vaudois d’Accueil des Migrants is a Swiss organisation set up by the Vaud cantonal government to help welcome asylum seekers. You can either volunteer to let out an empty apartment or house for the organisation to use, or you can become a welcome family who lodges and accompanies the new asylum seeker, helping them to integrate into and understand Swiss culture and society.

An overhead view of the makeshift migrant camp in Calais known as 'The Jungle' Photo: Reuters
An overhead view of the makeshift migrant camp in Calais known as ‘The Jungle’ Photo: Reuters

As part of an international community encouraged to follow the Ecolint principle of ‘taking an active part in making our world a better place and one that is based on the mutual understanding, respect and shared values’, and since many of us are in fact migrants who have moved to Switzerland for better opportunities, it is all the more important that we take active part in trying to help solve this massive crisis which is affecting millions of fellow humans.


Donations:

  • Médecins Sans Frontières: donate here
  • International Committee of the Red Cross: donate here
  • Migration Offshore Aid Station: donate here
  • United Nations High Commission for Refugees: donate here
  • Etablissement Vaudois d’Accueil des Migrants: contact immobilier@evam.ch or 021 557 06 20/22

The information presented in this article does not necessarily reflect the views or beliefs of The Update. We are reporting either the facts or opinions held by third parties related to the subject of the article.