The Disasters Emergency Committee today (Tuesday, 2 July) begins marking 50 years of working together. A documentary about the organisation will be broadcast on ITV and leaders from the three main UK parties and the devolved nations have all pledged their continuing support. Current and historic supporters will gather tonight at BT Tower, where many historic appeals were launched, for a reception supported by strategic partner BT.
The DEC was formed on 18 December 1963 to co-ordinate overseas aid and went on to launch its first appeal in response to the August 1966 earthquake in Varto, eastern Turkey. Since it was founded the DEC has launched 63 appeals, raised 1.1 billion pounds and helped provide aid to tens of millions of people around the world.
In pledging to be part of continued cross party support for the DEC, Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“For 50 years the Disasters Emergency Committee has done monumental work and I am delighted to sign-up and pledge that this government will continue to support you. You’ve been able to do all this because of the extraordinary generosity of the British people. A generosity that means millions around the world have lived who otherwise would have died.”
DEC Chairman Clive Jones said:
“The history of the DEC is one of extraordinary collaboration between major aid agencies, British broadcasters and blue chip companies. Ultimately though, all our collective achievements are really just a product of the staggering generosity of the UK public. This is above all their story and we want to take this opportunity to thank them for their extraordinary support.
“The DEC was unique when it was founded because of the way it brought a whole nation together when there is a major overseas emergency. We are pleased to say that since then it is a model that has been admired and copied around the world.”
The documentary about the history of the DEC, ‘A Very British Appeal’ is produced by Mentorn Media and will broadcast on ITV at 10.35pm Tuesday 2 July. The documentary team had unprecedented access inside the DEC during the run up to the Syria Crisis Appeal and also filmed on location in Haiti. A new interactive history of the DEC is now live on the DEC website.
In a four minute film compiled by ITN, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, David Miliband, Alex Salmond and Carwyn Jones all pledge their continued support for the DEC. Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness have also pledge their support. The DEC has received a letter from HRH the Prince of Wales congratulating all those involved in supporting the DEC for its achievements over 50 years.
During the rest of its 50th year, the DEC will mark the anniversaries of a series of some of the organisation’s milestone appeals including:
- 5 July - East Africa Crisis 2011
- 19 August – Turkish Earthquake 1966
- 12 November - Central America Hurricane (Hurricane Mitch) 1998
- 10 October – Asia Quake 2005
- 26 December - Tsunami Earthquake 2004
- 6 April Kosovo Crisis 1999
In October, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos will speak at a special DEC AGM that will reflect on changes in the response to humanitarian emergencies around the world over the last 50 years, including the increasing role of non-governmental organisations.
Stay up to date with developments on major overseas emergencies, the response of our member agencies to these crises and our fundraising efforts with the DEC at:
Twitter: http://twitter.com/decappeal or
Notes to editors:
• The DEC brings 14 leading UK aid charities together in times of crisis: ActionAid UK, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision; all collectively raising money to reach those in need quickly.
• To make a donation to the DEC Syria Crisis Appeal visit http://www.dec.org.uk, call the 24 hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word SUPPORT to 70000.