A TONBRIDGE-based refugee charity has delayed its Christmas campaign in favour of an urgent appeal for nappies in northern France, to discourage refugee families with babies from attempting the risky Channel crossing.
During a recent routine aid distribution trip to northern France, Refugease discovered over 80 families with toddlers and babies, living in makeshift camps and squats near the Channel coast.
Valentina Osborn, who co-founded Refugease in Rusthall in 2015, said: “Not having basic infant survival items is a huge push factor for young families.
“The longer this inhospitable environment continues, and without immediate action from the government, we will see a sharp increase in the loss of lives of infants in the Channel.”
Refugease also works in Greece, Syria, Turkey and Ukraine.
In France its work has mainly been providing humanitarian assistance to adults and teenagers in transit.
“It is the first time that our French partners, Vents Contraires, have made a plea for infant survival items above winter essentials,” said Ms Osborn.
Over 40,000 refugees have made the Channel crossing in small boats this year.
The charity called on the UK government to reduce the number of crossings by reallocating funding to include social and humanitarian support for refugee families with young children.
It said the UK could also work with charities to get an accurate count of refugees under five and open a legal French-UK resettlement scheme for families.
Vouchers for nappies in Northern France, and vouchers for other aid, are currently only available online at: refugease.org/aid-shop, but all sales from its Vintage Emporiums at 62 Mount Pleasant Road (furniture), and on the ground floor at Royal Victoria Place (clothes and bric-a-brac) directly fund the Refugease aid deliveries.