Ukraine aid appeal hails ‘astonishing show of support’ as UK donates £55m

The Disasters Emergency Committee said ‘hundreds of thousands’ of people had made contributions on the first day.

04 March 2022

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has praised the UK’s “astonishing show of support” for those affected by the conflict in Ukraine after raising £55 million in its first day.

The charity, made up of 15 leading aid agencies, urged the public to keep momentum for the cause going as it revealed that “hundreds of thousands” of people had contributed within hours of the appeal’s launch.

Among them was the Queen, who made a “generous donation” on Thursday, along with the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, the DEC said.

The total figure includes £20 million donated by the Government as part of its UK Aid Match initiative – the largest commitment ever made to a DEC appeal through the scheme.

DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed said: “We are extremely grateful for the huge generosity of everyone in the UK who has donated to the DEC appeal. We are also very grateful for the generous support of the royal family.

“We also thank the UK Government, who have matched pound for pound the first £20 million donated by the public, as well as our broadcast partners and celebrities for having aired and joined the appeal, reaching millions of viewers and listeners.”

The appeal was backed by Game Of Thrones star Kit Harington and Trigger Point actor Adrian Lester, who appeared in broadcasts publicising the launch on Thursday.

Commercial radio appeals were voiced by Doctor Who and Broadchurch star David Tennant.

Tesco also announced on Friday that it will donate £1 million to the Red Cross, one of the DEC member charities, to help it respond to the crisis on the ground.

Chief executive Jason Tarry also pledged to establish a scheme whereby every pound donated by a customer will be matched by the supermarket up to a further £1 million.

“We’re deeply saddened and distressed by the unfolding humanitarian situation and our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and all those affected,” Mr Tarry said.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation Foundation launched an international health appeal with a target of 57.5 million US dollars (around £43.2 million) needed to deliver urgent healthcare to those in Ukraine as well as refugees.

Jarno Habicht, WHO representative in Ukraine, said: ”We see that some cities now are becoming isolated and we are getting reports that people don’t feel safe seeking healthcare with healthcare workers under attack.

“This is moving very fast with the military offensive broadening and we are moving closer to a humanitarian crisis.”

Mr Habicht said a “full picture” has not yet emerged but electricity, oxygen and medicines are all under threat, with some hospitals already running out of supplies.

Anil Soni, chief executive of the WHO Foundation, said: “The people of Ukraine need urgent action and support from the rest of the world to ensure its healthcare is functioning and protected so further loss of life is prevented.”

Wales’s First Minister also announced on Friday that the Welsh Government will provide £4 million to Ukraine through the DEC.

Mark Drakeford told Sky News that his country hopes to be a “nation of sanctuary” and that its aid helps those on the front line.

The DEC appeal aims to raise funds to be distributed to charities responding on the ground in Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, giving people food, water and shelter.

(PA Graphics)

The charity has not set a target for the appeal, with Mr Saeed saying it is “absolutely grateful for every single pound” donated.

“The more money we raise, the more people that we can reach,” he said.

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