Just another day in Europe's backyard
This Winter, we, the Sheltersuit Foundation, need to start our national campaign with an emergency call: At this very moment, war victims are suffering in our backyard. Our European backyard. They are stuck all along the border and have been desperately waiting for weeks, months, or even years to receive just the slightest bit of help. It is difficult to give an exact count, but without a doubt, thousands of refugees are facing the prospect of going into the Winter without any shelter. Governments look away, but the Sheltersuit Foundation does not.
“We have received alarming signals through several channels” says Bas Timmer, founder of Sheltersuit. Various human rights organisations are describing the situation as ‘inhuman’ and ‘intolerable’; children are traumatised, lost their parents, or collapse due to the poor conditions in which they find themselves.It is particularly the lack of space and shelter that costs people’s lives.“And all of this takes place less than an hour’s drive from our border.” That is why this Winter, we will help 3,000 children and vulnerable adults in Europe to survive the freezing cold with a warm Sheltersuit. We start with Dunkirk, Sarajevo and Lesbos.
“We have received alarming signals through several channels”
Youp Meek, fundraiser at Sheltersuit, is familiar with the miserable conditions in the refugee camps on Lesbos. “There are hardly any facilities in the refugee camp. They live in leaking tents. There are children without their father or mother and they walk barefoot through the mud and human excrements.” After a successful campaign last Winter, Youp, together with Bas Timmer and Ahmad Shasho, has handed out 1.100 Sheltersuits on Lesbos.
But as Bas Timmer pointed out, Lesbos is not the only place that screams for help. Similar situations can be found in Dunkirk and Sarajevo.
Timmer: “The strange thing is, that you can hardly find anything about it in the media. Dunkirk is only a 4.5-hour drive from Enschede, less than an hour away from the border. France turn their backs on these refugees; the weekly evictions and seizure by the police makes it impossible for aid organisations to build a camp.” As a result, more than 1500 people – mainly families – therefore stay in the woods of Dunkirk with hardly any access to water, food, sanitation or shelter. Especially because the climate is becoming more and more unbearable, organisations are particularly concerned about all the children who have no choice but to sleep outside.
Europe is increasingly focusing on strengthening Europe’s external borders, using fences, barbed wire and border guards. For instance, a new escape route has been created along Bosnia and Croatia. Because the journey to Croatia in the Winter is too dangerous, thousands of refugees have to stay in Sarajevo. But nothing has been built here. Hundreds of refugees are therefore forced to sleep outside with nothing more than a fleece blanket. Bosnian Winters are tough. Starting in November, the temperature is dropping to -20°C. With the icy wind and surrounding mountains, the wind chill is even lower.
Help now: Donate a Sheltersuit or help us spread the word!
Maybe all this distress and need is giving you a sense of powerlessness. But there is a way to help. You can support Sheltersuit financially by donating one or more Sheltersuits. And you can help us spread our emergency call on social media: help 3,000 people in our European backyard to survive the Winter!