Illegal migrants demonstrate against British government, on Aug. 20, 2015 in Calais,
Philippe Huguen—AFP/Getty Images
By Tessa Berenson
September 3, 2015

Every morning, news sites and social media are filled with stories about the worsening crisis facing migrants in Europe — of the 350,000 to have reached Europe’s shores from north Africa and the Middle East this year, tens of thousands are stranded at border camps waiting for applications for asylum, while others attempt to find shelter and food in cities and towns across the continent. Some 3,500 have died in the attempt to seek refuge from poverty, or unrest.

While governments debate how best to tackle the desperate conditions facing displaced people in Europe, here are a few things you can do to help:

1. Donate money

There are a number of organizations that you can donate to. Médecins Sans Frontières and UNICEF are both helping the refugees, along with other well-established organizations like Save the Children and the Red Cross. There are other groups working specifically for this crisis. Migrant Offshore Aid Station sends rescue boats to migrants at risk of drowning, and the Aylan Kurdi Fund was established after a photo of a drowned 3-year-old boy went viral.

Or you can donate to more grassroots efforts, including two set up to help migrants seeking entrance to the U.K. camped out at the French coastal town of Calais: Glasgow Solidarity with Calais Migrants or Association Salam, where individuals are crowdfunding to drive to Calais with supplies.

2. Donate supplies

You can also donate things other than money. Amazon has a registry for supplies to buy for refugees in Calais. Refugees Welcome is a kind of “Airbnb for refugees” where people can share their homes with the migrants. Some organizations are looking for very specific types of donations – The Jungle Library is a makeshift library set up at the migrant camp in Calais, and it’s looking for books. Music Against Borders is seeking musical instruments for the camp at Calais.

Or — if you live nearby — you can donate whatever you have by going to one of the drop-off sites organized by Calais People to People Solidarity or Calais Action.

3. Lobby the government

There are numerous petitions you can sign calling for European governments to accept more migrants, or you can lobby the government yourself. Avaaz.org is looking for volunteers in Europe to lobby their local legislatures to increase the number of refugees housed in their area.

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