Britons have donated almost £100 million in just 11 days
Generous Britons have donated almost £100 million 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 £91 million, with the landmark £100 million 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 £91 million 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.”
Money raised has been sent directly to those affected
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 £100 million.
In Catford, south London, organizers 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.
Rishi Sunak at a donation center supporting the Turkey and Syria earthquake appeal
The sports world has played a big part in boosting the total, with the Premier League donating £1 million and BT Sport promoting the appeal during matches.
The music and arts world has contributed, with Glastonbury Festival organizers setting up a prize draw to win VIP tickets which so far has raised £600,000. Bakers Greggs are holding bucket collections outside city center 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 is 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 liters of clean drinking water by truck to more than 30,000 people in different neighborhoods 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 organization 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.”
COMMENT BY AMANDA REDMAN
It’s two weeks since the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and people are daring to think about starting again.
It takes me back to my visit to Nepal in 2015, six months after a terrible earthquake killed almost 9,000 people. They too had to get through a bitter winter.
The current disaster is on an even larger scale, with at least 41,000 dead. Around 17 million people live in the affected area, including seven million children.
Many schools have been destroyed or are unsafe. Children who have been orphaned or separated from their families will be especially vulnerable and scared.
When I went to Nepal, I was struck by how important education was, the mothers keen to give their children every opportunity, the youngsters dreaming of becoming doctors.
Now the children of Turkey and Syria will need support to get over this terrible tragedy and fulfill their dreams.
DEC charities including the British Red Cross, which I support, are on the ground through their international networks providing medical treatment for the injured, shelter, hot meals and winter supplies such as blankets and fuel for those who have lost their homes.
In the future, they will help families and children get back on their feet. The generosity of the British public has been amazing. But the needs are immense and ongoing.
I know things are tough for many but I also know how giving the public are towards those in need. Just £25 could provide emergency food for a family in Turkey for 10 days.
Please help if you can.
- Amanda Redman is an actress and a British Red Cross supporter.