Groningen helping Moria refugees in times of need

Paul in front of the truck going to Moria, Photograph: Robert Lee Smid

The Moria refugee protest in front of Groningen city hall last Sunday has sparked different ideas amongst the residents on how to handle the refugee crisis as a whole, and how to provide support to the refugees affected by the fires. 

These different ideas show how polarized people in Groningen are towards helping refugees.

The Moria fires saw refugees stranded on the Greek island homeless, cold, and in disparity on how to continue their already troubled lives. With 13,000 people being made homeless, in a camp with a capacity of 3,000, refugees are left to the good will of Europe. Public figures of Groningen show different opinions about the matter.

Paul Grimmius, creative director from Paradigm, a festival organization in Groningen, believes Europe collectively should do more. ‘’It is horrible what is happening in Greece. I spoke to a person who has been there in the period that it started to go wrong. That woman was completely traumatized by what she saw.’’

A festival organizer of Groningen has redirected his efforts in order to help the refugees in Moria.

Grimmius decided to join Because We Carry, a non-profit organization supporting refugees, to collect sleeping bags. He was inspired to do this after he saw the graphic images on television. ‘’What struck me personally,’’ he said, ‘’were the little children who were sleeping on the tarmac without any blankets whatsoever.’’

According to him, realization and spreading the message amongst the people that they can make a difference is really important. He believes that spreading the word is effective, but it will only do so much. ‘’Politicians will have to solve the problem’’.

A Groningen senator for the nationalist PVV party does not believe the initiative will be effective. ‘’No the initiative will not make a difference, it is starting a fire while we want to put it out. People need to stay in their own countries, and facilities should be made available there’’. He believes that the Netherlands has done enough for refugees.

As for Paul, he will remain busy for the coming weeks. This is because he is already planning on an initiative to collect shoes for the refugees. ‘’A winter is coming; these people lost everything and will most certainly need new shoes’’.

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