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Generous Britons have donated almost £100million in just 11 days for victims of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. In communities across the country, fundraising drives large and small have kept the cash flowing in – despite the mounting cost-of-living crisis.
Money raised has been sent directly to those affected, with the process overseen by experts on the ground with intimate knowledge of where it is needed most.
The Disasters Emergency Committee appeal has raised a staggering £91million, with the landmark £100million figure set to be topped in the next couple of days.
Speaking exclusively to the Daily Express, Saleh Saeed, the DEC’s chief executive, said the response was “truly humbling”.
He added: “When it comes to generosity, the British public excels – something we are all proud of. When it counts, you act.
“So far, the DEC Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal has raised an incredible £91million in just 11 days. We are extremely grateful that even in these times of hardship for many in the UK, you have dug deep and shared your hard-earned cash.”
The DEC appeal has been fronted by actor Daniel Craig, presenter Sir Michael Palin, celebrity chef Dame Prue Leith and Downton Abbey stars Hugh Bonneville and Joanne Froggatt.
Senior royals, including the King and Queen Consort and the Prince and Princess of Wales have also given generously after being “horrified” to see images of the devastation.
But it is the unflinching commitment of the British public to those less fortunate that has catapulted the total towards £100million.
In Catford, south London, organisers of the two-day So Last Century Vintage Fair at St Dunstan’s College donated 20 per cent of the entry fee to the DEC, raising £922.
The Belfast Ukulele Jam raised £8,500 playing in the city centre. In Scotland, the Dunblane Boys’ Brigade held a book sale that brought in £1,374.
And in Wales, musicians from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama performed a fundraising concert in Cardiff on Saturday.
The sports world has played a big part in boosting the total, with the Premier League donating £1million and BT Sport promoting the appeal during matches.
The music and arts world has contributed, with Glastonbury Festival organisers setting up a prize draw to win VIP tickets which so far has raised £600,000. Bakers Greggs are holding bucket collections outside city centre stores, while Morrisons and the Co-operative Group are offering customers the opportunity to make a donation at checkouts.
Actor, comedian and presenter Sir Michael Palin, who voiced the DEC Turkey-Syria Earthquake appeal on commercial radio, told the Express yesterday he was “delighted” by the response.
He added: “The crisis is deepening for many people in Turkey and Syria who are struggling to find food to eat, clothes to wear and fuel to heat their wrecked homes – if they are still standing. It is bitterly cold in Turkey and Syria and it’s hard to grasp how families are coping.
“DEC charities and their local partners on the ground are helping people get through this crisis with emergency support, and will help them rebuild their lives in the months ahead.
“I was pleased to be able to support the DEC appeal by raising awareness, and I’m delighted it has raised so much so quickly.”
The DEC is a coalition of 15 leading charities, including Save The Children and the British Red Cross.
They come together when disasters occur overseas in countries that do not have the capacity to cope, or raise funds quickly.
Less than a fortnight after the deadly earthquakes, the grim toll is evident with more than 41,000 dead, 100,000 injured and millions more affected.
The lives of seven million children in the two affected countries have been torn apart, with thousands likely to be bereaved or orphaned. But in times of tragedy the British public, as well as companies, sports bodies and community groups, have yet again risen to the challenge in a crisis.
Cash is being used on the ground by local teams and partners, funding search and rescue teams, and providing hot meals, blankets, water and emergency shelter.
In Syria, Action Aid has funded rescue teams via charity partner Violet. The crews were overjoyed when their efforts led to the rescue of a young girl who had been trapped for 36 hours.
The Turkish Red Crescent, which is supported by DEC charity British Red Cross, has provided 31 million hot meals and 36 million loaves of bread since the earthquakes struck.
World Vision’s partner in Syria has set up a kitchen to cook platters of rice and chicken with vegetables and nuts, and has distributed 11,000 hot meals so far.
Tearfund’s partner in Aleppo, Syria, opened three shelters for around 1,000 people who lost their homes, providing blankets, warm clothes, food, water and other essential items such as soap and toothpaste.
Save The Children has provided 300 people with tents in the heavily affected Idlib province in north-west Syria.
It has also provided food to 200 search and rescue teams and fuel to two hospitals.
Meanwhile, Oxfam has delivered 182,000 litres of clean drinking water by truck to more than 30,000 people in different neighbourhoods in Aleppo. Age International’s associates are delivering bottled water to houses.
Oxfam GB’s boss Danny Sriskandarajah said: “Oxfam is proud to be a founding member of the DEC. It’s a small organisation but it really makes its presence felt in times of crisis overseas.
“The DEC allows the 15 member aid agencies to coordinate our efforts and create a trusted and safe way for people to donate via a central point.”
- To donate visit dec.org.uk
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