DEC response to the Lancet

22/01/2010

Disasters Emergency Committee Chief Executive Brendan Gormley said:

“We do not recognise the picture of the aid response in Haiti painted by the Lancet.

Rather than “jostling” for position, 13 major UK aid agencies have come together under our banner to launch the DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal to ensure a coherent and united response in our UK fundraising and publicity.

It is clear that the scale of the disaster in Haiti is far too large for any individual agency and the DEC agencies always work closely together on the ground and coordinate effectively with governments, the UN and affected communities.

The Lancet article also fails to take into account the huge logistical problems faced by aid agencies in dealing with this disaster. Aid has not yet reached all in need but it is arriving in increasingly large amounts, despite the immense destruction and damage that has been done to the infrastructure on which all aid efforts rely. Co-ordination is improving but remains difficult following large numbers of deaths in both the UN Haiti operation and the Haitian government.

The DEC appeal process is part of long-established and planned practices to ensure the best support for survivors. The media are essential to our efforts and our analysis shows that televised appeals have driven fundraising for the Haiti Earthquake Appeal.

Aid agencies have been a long-term presence in Haiti and will be there for years to come to ensure the immediate response is translated into longer-term development efforts, working largely away from the media spotlight, to help people rebuild their lives out of the ruins.

The Lancet editorial fails to take into account the huge efforts by dedicated staff and volunteers - both Haitians and international experts – who are working tirelessly to bring help to earthquake survivors. To suggest that humanitarianism is no longer the ethos for many organisations within the aid world is risible.

The Lancet suggests that the aid world’s operations must be scrutinised. They are. Just last month, the DEC published an independent report into the reconstruction work in Aech, Indonesia, after the 2004 tsunami. The report by respected consultants at Arup confirmed the great work that had been done, while highlighting how we can continue to improve future responses.”

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 or become a fan of ‘Disasters-Emergency-Committee-DEC’ on Facebook.

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Notes to editors:

  • To make a postal donation make cheques payable to ‘DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal’ and mail to ‘PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA
  • Donations can be made at any high street bank, or at a Post Office by quoting Freepay 1449.
  • Text “GIVE” to 70077 to give £5 to the DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal. £5 goes to the DEC. You pay £5 plus the standard network SMS rate.
  • 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, World Vision.
  • The DEC criteria to launch an appeal are: The disaster must be on such a scale and of such urgency as to call for swift International humanitarian assistance. The DEC agencies, or some of them, must be in a position to provide effective and swift humanitarian assistance at a scale to justify a national Appeal. There must be reasonable grounds for concluding that a public appeal would be successful, either because of evidence of existing public sympathy for the humanitarian situation or because there is a compelling case indicating the likelihood of significant public support should an appeal be launched.
  • The DEC is very grateful for the technical advice and strategic communications support provided by BT to help us respond immediately to international disasters like the recent earthquake in Haiti. We also welcome the fact that BT are encouraging the public and their own customers to support the appeal.