Page last updated at 15:00 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010

UK Disasters Emergency Committee launches Haiti appeal

A young injured earthquake survivor holds a piece of bread in a makeshift shelter in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday 14 January 2010

The UK's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has launched an appeal for the earthquake victims in Haiti.

The umbrella organisation, which co-ordinates responses to major disasters overseas, has already received money from the Queen.

More than £6m has been donated by the UK government to the relief effort. A TV appeal is due to be shown on Friday.

The 7.0-magnitude quake hit the Caribbean island on Tuesday and tens of thousands are feared dead.

The DEC has already started to take donations and broadcasters including the BBC, ITV, Sky, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Al-Jazeera have agreed to broadcast the appeal.

I do urge people to support where they can the Disaster Emergency Committee Haiti appeal
Prime Minister Gordon Brown

A DEC spokesman said giving money was the best way to help so supplies could be purchased as close as possible to the disaster area and sent straight to those in need.

"The aid effort isn't on the scale that's required and we need people's help to scale it up urgently," he said.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown called on the whole world to respond to the "catastrophic" quake.

"The last 24 hours have been truly horrific for the people of Haiti. It is a tragedy beyond imagination," he said.

"I do urge people to support where they can the Disaster Emergency Committee Haiti appeal."

The funds raised by the DEC's Haiti Earthquake Appeal will support the efforts of its 13 member agencies which include British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International UK, Christian Aid, Help the Aged, Oxfam and Save the Children.

You can donate via the DEC website or by telephoning 0370 60 60 900.

'Profound sympathy'

International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander met British aid agencies on Thursday morning to discuss the DEC appeal.

The Department for International Development said the UK contribution would be divided between a number of international agencies and appeals, according to an ongoing assessment of need on the ground.

The government has given £6.15m to the relief effort, while the Queen's donation to the DEC was undisclosed.

In a short statement, the monarch said: "I'm deeply saddened to hear of the earthquake in Haiti with its huge loss of life and damage to homes and livelihoods.

"I offer my condolences and profound sympathy to all those affected."

British aid workers have arrived in the Caribbean to join rescue and relief efforts.

A four-man team from the UK government and 71 search and rescue specialists with dogs and heavy equipment landed in the Dominican Republic on Thursday morning and transferred to smaller planes to fly to Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.



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