DEC coalition, church and non-believers' Haiti aid surges

DEC coalition, church and non-believers' Haiti aid surges

By staff writers
26 Jan 2010

Donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) have topped £50 million, exactly two weeks after the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, reports the coalition of major UK-based development agencies.

The total so far represents an average donation of over four million pounds each day since the DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal was launched.

Other organisations also report a surge in giving. Christian Aid's £1 million online Haiti appeal (http://www.christianaid.org.uk/emergencies/current/haiti-earthquake-appe...) is moving forward rapidly alongside its share in DEC. An appeal launched by the Methodist Church and the Methodist Relief and Development Fund in the wake of the earthquake ( www.justgiving.com/Methodist-Church-Haiti-Appeal) has broken the £80,000 barrier. Both are members of the Action by Churches Together (ACT) International alliance.

Meanwhile, 'Non-Believers Giving' initiative (http://givingaid.richarddawkins.net/) of the Richard Dawkins Foundation, supported in Britain by the British Humanist Association and by a range of groups from the USA, has raised well over £200,000. It has recently overcome a problem in the UK to ensure that all donations get tax aid.

The Dawkins-backed appeal is aimed at people who may not give through DEC, because it is an alliance of both religious and secular groups. 'Non-Believers Giving' declares on its website: "It goes without saying that your donations will only be passed on to aid organisations that do not have religious affiliations. In the case of Haiti, the two organisations we have chosen are: Doctors Without Borders (Médecins sans Frontières) and International Red Cross." It adds: "When donating via Non-Believers Giving Aid, you are helping to counter the scandalous myth that only the religious care about their fellow-humans."

Some church groups also refuse to support secular or non-religious charities. But the massive support for DEC suggests that most of the public, whatever their beliefs, are willing to give to reputable major charities, whatever their affiliation - on the understanding that the money goes to those most in need.

NGOs like Christian Aid are rigorous in making assistance and support available irrespective of creed, though others like Tearfund operate through specifically church partners - while campaigning alongside those of all faiths and none on fair trade, the elimination of debt and better aid.

The DEC consists of Action Aid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.

According to a recent survey of over 1,000 adults carried out for the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), almost half the UK population (48 per cent) have already donated to the Haiti disaster appeal. Of those who haven’t given yet, nearly two thirds (62 per cent) say they might, or plan to do so in the future.

Brendan Gormley, Chief Executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee commented: “This is a fantastic show of support by the UK public and their substantial response to the appeal has shown a widespread compassion and willingness to help the millions of Haitians affected by this terrible tragedy.

"The UK public’s generosity has enabled our member agencies to work tirelessly during the last fortnight to deliver emergency supplies in the form of food, water and medical care. But whilst we are hugely grateful for this outstanding support, the situation remains critical in Haiti and we are still working flat out to reach many more survivors with aid. This is no time to sit back and congratulate ourselves. The earthquake has affected millions of people and entire lives need to be rebuilt from the ruins. So I would urge people to continue donating, as this aid effort will continue for many years.”

Donations have mainly been made over the phone and online, but also include corporate, postal, events, SMS and over-the-counter donations. The influence of social networking and new technology has also greatly contributed to the success of the appeal.

The security situation in Haiti is becoming more challenging, and co-ordination and logistical problems remain very serious. However, in the last 24 hours the work of our member agencies has included:

Red Cross
· More than 2.5 million litres of water have been distributed by the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
· 13,000 people (more than 2,000 households) received tarpaulins, tents, blankets, hygiene kits, kitchen sets and jerry cans.
· Emergency health kits for 30,000 people have been distributed across the capital.
· Ten shipping containers with relief items for approximately 5,000 families has been unloaded in port Haïna (Dominican Republic) and will be transported over land to Haiti.

Oxfam,
· Five sites with water bladders, serving 65,000 people are up and running with extra water trucks arriving daily
· Latrines and washing areas have been completed at two sites serving 55,000 people, including one latrine designed for use by the handicapped. Work continues at three additional sites, which will serve 20,000 extra people.

World Vision
· Yesterday, World Vision distributed more than 14 metric tons of food to 2,500 people. The 15-day ration food kits included soy-fortified bulgur, corn-soy blend, vegetable oil and lentils
· A mobile clinic has been set up with the capacity to help about 100 people a day
· Over the next two weeks, World Vision is aiming to reach more than 72,000 people with food and non-food items in 32 camps within Port-au-Prince.

To make a donation to the DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal visit www.dec.org.uk or call 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any post office or high street bank, or send a cheque made payable to ‘DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal’ to ‘PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA’.

Anyone wanting to stay up to date with developments in Haiti, the emergency response and the fundraising efforts can follow the DEC on twitter at http://twitter.com/decappeal http://twitter.com/decappeal or become a 'fan' of ‘Disasters-Emergency-Committee-DEC’ on Facebook.

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