Page last updated at 17:36 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

British donations to Haiti earthquake appeal reach 46m

Earthquake victims rush the back of a World Food Program truck
British funds have been used to provide relief aid for Haitian people

Britons have donated a total of £46m to the Haiti earthquake appeal fund after another £4m was added over the weekend.

As many as 200,000 people were killed and two million made homeless by the quake on 12 January.

The UK's Disasters Emergency Committee said relief agencies were working "round the clock" in Haiti.

Meanwhile, Development Secretary Douglas Alexander will meet religious groups to discuss how to provide long-term help for victims of the disaster.

Brendan Gormley, chief executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee, said: "Thanks to the generosity of the British public, our member agency staff and partners are working round the clock to bring food, water, shelter and medical care to tens of thousands of Haitians.

"But the needs continue to remain huge. The aid effort will continue for many years to come, as we help people to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.

In 20 years it's probably been the most fulfilling rescue we've had, the sense that when I left home on the Tuesday night she was underneath that building
Rudy Parkes, British firefighter

"So if you haven't already given, I urge you dig deep. It's not too late to help."

A charity single is also being released to raise money for the appeal.

The cover of REM's Everybody Hurts features artists such as Leona Lewis, Rod Stewart and the band JLS.

Meanwhile, Haiti's Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive has said his government can lead efforts to rebuild the country.

Mr Bellerive told a meeting of world officials in the Canadian city of Montreal that his country faced a "colossal" reconstruction effort.

British firefighters, returning to the UK after the Haitian government declared the search-and-rescue operation for survivors of the earthquake over, have been speaking about their experiences.

Rudy Parkes helped to rescue a two-year-old girl called Mia who had been trapped in the rubble of her nursery school for three days.

He told BBC News: "In 20 years it's probably been the most fulfilling rescue we've had, the sense that when I left home on the Tuesday night she was underneath that building.

"I think her crying and the lad that alerted us to her, who we couldn't find later, probably saved her life along with the three teams that were there.

The Disasters Emergency Committee is co-ordinating an appeal to help the people of Haiti
There are 13 charities involved including the British Red Cross, Islamic Relief and World Vision
Donate via the DEC website or by telephoning 0370 60 60 900

"When we initially got there we called for silence. I bent down and I could hear the little girl crying for her mother, her mother was on the scene during the whole four-hour operation and was quite calm and very useful to us.

"When she actually came out it was like she was being born again, if you like.

"Luckily for the two-year-old old she'll never remember any of it hopefully, but we'll never forget it."

Mr Alexander will hold talks with religious organisations with links to aid agencies working in Haiti.

He said: "Faith groups are playing a crucial role in saving lives and helping Haiti rebuild itself.

"I will be working alongside, and listening to, faith leaders to hear how they think the people of Haiti can be helped.

"Uniting faith groups will help them have a stronger voice in the international effort.

"It is important that Haiti stays at the top of the international agenda in the weeks and months ahead, and this is one way to make sure this happens."

Also, EU ministers have agreed that member states should provide 300-350 police to help maintain order in Haiti, mostly from an EU gendarmerie force established by France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands and Romania.

A spokeswoman from the Foreign Office said the UK did not have such a force and would "look to contribute to the international effort in other ways".

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