Red Cross, Manitoba government launch Syrian refugee info line

The Canadian Red Cross says it has already received dozens of calls from Manitobans who want to help Syrian refugees within hours of a toll-free information line being launched.

Manitobans who want to help refugees can call 1-888-662-3211

Five Syrian babies, three of them triplets (left to centre), lie on blankets among their relatives as they arrive with other refugees and migrants near Athens in October. (Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)

The Canadian Red Cross says it has already received dozens of calls from Manitobans who want to help Syrian refugees within hours of a toll-free information line being launched on Monday.

The help line, created by the Red Cross and the Manitoba government, aims to connect people with information on how they can donate or volunteer their time to welcome 1,500 to 2,000 refugees who will come to the province starting in early December.

The number is 1-888-662-3211 and it's toll-free across Manitoba. The phone line is being staffed Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT.

"We've actually received over 60 calls so far today and the line just went active at 8:30," Cailin Hodder, director of the Red Cross's Manitoba disaster management program, told CBC's Radio Noon program.

"We've received lots of different inquiries on general things of, you know, 'How can I help? I'm not really sure how I can help,' but also a lot of individuals that are looking to volunteer their times to many different organizations and … folks that are looking to donate or fundraise to provide funds to different organizations so that they can do the work."

When the phone line was announced last week, Red Cross officials said it's the first time the organization has been involved in resettling refugees in the province.

Hodder said organizations that work with refugees are looking for people who can offer housing options, especially long-term housing, as well as donations of winter clothing, kitchen items and other household items, as well as monetary donations.

"What we want to do is create a one-stop shop for anyone that really wants to help the Syrian refugee crisis here in Manitoba so either to receive information on what they can do to support, or provide an actual offer of support," she said.

"We are really the link to many other organizations and departments across Manitoba that are involved in this planning phase, and we can link those callers directly to the organizations so that the support can be reached and they can help."


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