The mission of Languedoc: Solidarité avec les Refugiés/Solidarity with Refugees (LSR) is to give humanitarian support to refugees in need and to increase awareness of the refugee crisis in the Languedoc and beyond. The group began, in September 2015 when a small number of concerned individuals in Hérault gathered to brainstorm potential activities through which we could respond to the refugee crisis. That group quickly grew by reaching out to friends, neighbours, and the Facebook group we established to link with others who shared our concern.
In the early months, all activities were undertaken by volunteers acting collaboratively with no formal structure and no overhead costs. It soon became clear, however, that programme effectiveness, and the laws of France, required us to register as an association. The process was completed in January of 2016 and LSR is now fully authorized to operate under French law.
We began by directly supporting a group of more than 40 Syrian refugees we found squatting in Béziers. This group included as many as 15 families at times with numerous children ranging in age from infancy to 17 years. Calling on an extensive network of dedicated volunteers, we were able to provide this group with clothing and household necessities, emergency medical and dental care, weekly food deliveries and friendship while their applications for asylum and social support from the government moved forward. Most of those families have now, after long delays, managed to enter the formal asylum process.
During the early months LSR volunteers began collecting, sorting, packing and shipping donated clothing and medical supplies to areas where they are badly needed and developing partnerships with many other groups active in this vital work. Shipments to Syria, Calais, Dunkirk, Paris and Italy with each effort being spearheaded by LSR volunteers. This work continues with each collection focused on specific needs in an identified place with other volunteers on the ground to ensure effective distribution of the goods shipped.
On the more political side, LSR conducted a very active and successful campaign to convince the Prefect of Hérault to reverse a decision requiring one Syrian family to be deported to Spain. Starting with a petition that gathered nearly 3000 signatures from around the world, we also wrote letters to key government officials and stimulated articles in local and international newspapers as well as local broadcast media. That family has now been welcomed into the asylum process and will hopefully eventually receive full rights as recognized political refugees
LSR has conducted numerous fundraising/awareness building events, organized by our member-volunteers, and established practical linkages with other organizations within the region and throughout Europe.
LSR will continue to evolve along with the needs of refugees in the area. We are eager to support other refugee families within the Languedoc region who are in need of emergency assistance, to help in the formation of volunteer groups in other parts of the region, to encourage initiatives in the Languedoc to bring aid to the areas of highest need across Europe and to continue to increase awareness of the problems facing refugees by telling their stories wherever we have the opportunity.
To share information with the LSR group or to ask questions, please either contact us directly through this website or join the Facebook Group. As a sign of your support for our program you can register as a member of the LSR association by clicking here. We will keep you up to date with our activities and with ways that you might help. There is a voluntary annual membership fee of €10.00, the proceeds of which will be used to support LSR programmes.