"They may have nothing to eat tomorrow": DEC Ukraine Humanitarian appeal launched to fund urgent assistance as one million people flee country 

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has launched an urgent appeal to raise funds to help those forced to flee their homes in Ukraine in what is predicted to be the biggest refugee crisis this century. 

More than 1 million people have fled Ukraine in recent days and many more have been displaced inside the country due to intense fighting. Yesterday UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo said that “at this rate” the outflows from Ukraine could make it the source of “the biggest refugee crisis this century.” 

Inside Ukraine, homes continue to be destroyed and essential infrastructure such as water supplies, hospitals and schools have been hit. People are being forced to hide in shelters and metro stations to stay safe.    

As a result, hundreds of thousands of people are crossing borders into Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova, triggering a large-scale humanitarian crisis.  

At a press conference today (Thursday 3 March) Saleh Saeed, chief executive of the DEC, said: “I could never have envisaged launching a humanitarian appeal in the heart of Europe in 2022.  But tragically, that’s exactly where we find ourselves.  

“The last time we launched an appeal in Europe was for Kosovo, more than 20 years ago. We thought never again. We were wrong.” 

Tatiana Sorocan, Country Director for HelpAge International in Moldova, (partner of Age International) joined the press conference by live link and said the refugees were desperate. "They said they are worrying about the future, about food and clothing…because they may not have anything to eat tomorrow.”   

The DEC brings together 15 leading aid charities at times of crisis overseas. Thirteen of these are responding in Ukraine and its neighbouring countries who have taken in refugees. DEC charities responding include British Red Cross, CAFOD and Save the Children.  

Humanitarian Appeals to raise funds to support this work will be broadcast on the BBC by actor Adrian Lester, star of Trigger Point, Hustle and Life, and on ITV Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky by Kit Harington, star of Game of Thrones and Marvel film Eternals, following the evening news. Commercial radio appeals will be voiced by actor David Tennant, star of Dr Who, Staged and Broadchurch. 

DEC charities and their local partners are in Ukraine and across the border in the neighbouring countries, working to meet the immediate needs of all people fleeing with food, water, medical assistance, protection and trauma care.  

One of them, World Vision International, is led by Andrew Morley, President and CEO, who has just returned from Siret on the Romanian border with Ukraine and Albita on the Moldova border where he saw the relief operations in action.  

Mr Morley said he saw fear in the eyes of the children crossing the borders, having taken days to get there. Temporary shelter had been set up in a local football stadium. 

“They were lost, scared, with tears in their eyes. They did not want to leave their homes, their friends, their school. They want peace. These children’s voices must be heard,” Mr Morley said.

He acknowledged the efforts of the public who are donating clothes and other items from the UK in other fundraising activities but said that donating cash through the DEC was the most effective way of getting the right help to those who need it.   

He added: “They need food and shelter but most of all they need to know we care.”   

He was joined by live link by Olena Stokoz, Deputy Director General of Ukrainian Red Cross Society. Also at the press conference supporting the appeal was Bethan Lewis, Head of Disaster Risk Management, Plan International UK. 

She said: "We are also deeply concerned about children and adolescents, particularly girls, who may be separated or unaccompanied. The protection and safety of all children on the move must be a top priority, with special consideration for the needs and vulnerabilities of girls and young women."

Mr Saeed said: “The unfolding crisis in Ukraine is horrific and heart-breaking.  And the grim reality is that it is likely to get worse.  

“But there is something we can all do to bring hope. We can make a difference to support the people of Ukraine. And we can help them now. Today.   

“Please donate and help us raise funds to support the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes with nothing more than a suitcase. You can donate at: www.dec.org.uk” 

Every pound donated by the UK public will be matched by the UK government through its UK Aid Match scheme up to the value of £20 million.  

This support will be the largest commitment ever made to a DEC appeal through UK Aid Match and will double the impact of the public donations, ensuring that charities working on the ground can reach those in urgent need. 

Stay up to date with developments in Ukraine, the emergency response and the fundraising efforts with the DEC on Twitter or on Facebook.  

ENDS  

Notes to editors:  

Media enquiries please call 020 7387 0200 or 07734 653616 (out of hours).  

Interview requests: Panellists will be available for individual interviews. For more information please contact: pressofficemanager@dec.org.uk  

A collection of images and video footage of DEC member charities responding as refugees arrive into neighbouring countries is available here.  

UK Aid Match enquiries should be directed to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. Please call 0207 023 0600 (24-hour).  

About the DEC: The DEC brings together 15 leading UK aid charities at times of crisis overseas to raise funds quickly and efficiently. In these times of crisis, people in life-and-death situations need our help and our mission is to save, protect and rebuild lives through effective humanitarian response. The DEC’s 15 member charities are: Action Against Hunger, ActionAid UK, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide UK, International Rescue Committee UK, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Oxfam GB, Plan International UK, Save the Children UK, Tearfund and World Vision UK.     

Thirteen of the DEC’s 15 members are either responding or planning to respond in Ukraine or in neighbouring countries and will receive funds from this appeal. Some may work through trusted local partners. They are Action Against Hunger, ActionAid UK, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide UK, International Rescue Committee UK, Oxfam GB, Plan International UK, Save the Children UK and World Vision UK.     

Through UK Aid Match the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office gives the British public the opportunity to decide how the UK aid budget is spent and support people in desperate need by matching their donations pound-for-pound up to £20 million. This has increased the impact of a number of DEC appeals to help those in need around the world, including most recently to support people affected by the crisis in Afghanistan.  

Media Contacts: 020 7387 0200 or 07734 653616 (out of hours)   

Donations can be made at www.dec.org.uk or by calling 0370 60 60 900  

** Spokespeople, recent photos and footage are available **  

You can watch a recording of the press conference here

How to donate:      

Online: dec.org.uk     

Phone: 0370 60 60 900  

SMS: To donate £10 text SUPPORT to 70150. Texts cost £10 plus the standard network charge and the whole £10 goes to the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. You must be 16 or over and please ask the bill payer's permission. For full terms and conditions and more information go to www.dec.org.uk     

Or donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office or send a cheque by post to Post: DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, PO Box 999, London EC3A 3AA.