Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) in Scotland launches emergency appeal for people fleeing Myanmar

Leading Scottish aid agencies today announced a joint fundraising appeal to help the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes in Myanmar who are in urgent need of shelter, medical care, water and food. 

In recent weeks, more than half a million people, mostly Rohingya women and children, have sought refuge in Bangladesh from violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

Money raised in Scotland will support the efforts of DEC member charities across the UK to reach people fleeing Myanmar as well as their host communities in Bangladesh.

More than half of all new arrivals are children and one in every ten are women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The vast majority of them are living in makeshift shelters made from bamboo and thin plastic.

The DEC Emergency Appeal is launching today and will be shown on all major UK broadcasters including BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky.

The Chair of the DEC in Scotland, Marie Hayes, said:  “We know from our work on the ground in Bangladesh that people are arriving at the already overcrowded camps both exhausted and traumatised.

“This humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in a country that is already trying to recover from the worst floods in decades. It now faces one of the fastest movements of people we have seen in recent decades – the speed is unprecedented.

“Families are living in makeshift shelters or by the side of the road with no clean drinking water, toilets or washing facilities.

“This is a large scale and escalating crisis and without urgent support, the risk of disease and further misery is alarmingly high.”

A number of Scottish aid workers from DEC member charities are already in or on their way to Bangladesh [and Myanmar] to help the delivery of life-saving aid, such as food, treatment for malnutrition and clean drinking water.  

They are rapidly scaling up their humanitarian support in Bangladesh but they need more funding to reach people in urgent need.

The Country Director of Care International, Zia Choudhury, who is originally from Glasgow has seen for himself how desperate the situation is on the ground near the border. He said: “I met a boy, perhaps 3 or 4 years old, standing in a muddy puddle, shaking with fever and quietly weeping. He did not know where his mother was. I spoke to many women who made this journey while pregnant or carrying small children.

“In 20 years of working with refugees across the world, these are some of the worst conditions I have seen. I am fearful that conditions are perfect for an epidemic, and then we will have a second disaster.”

In Scotland, Dr Wali Tasar Uddin, who is Chair of the Council of Bangladeshi in Scotland, backed the appeal and urged people across in Scotland to support the response as much as possible. He said: “There is an enormous level of humanitarian need in Bangladesh: hundreds of thousands of people are suffering terribly and they desperately need food, water and shelter. I would urge people in Scotland to get behind this appeal – every pound you give could help save lives.”

To make a donation to the DEC Emergency Appeal visit www.dec.org.uk, call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 610, 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.

The UK Government will match pound for pound the first £3 million donated by the public to the DEC Emergency Appeal.  The Scottish Government has already donated £120,000 to help the response.

Stay up to date with developments in Bangladesh, the emergency response and the fundraising efforts with the DEC on twitter: www.twitter.com/decappeal or on Facebook via www.facebook.com/DisastersEmergencyCommittee or by searching #decappeal


Notes to editors:

  • Media enquiries please call Huw Owen 020 7255 4279 or 07747 606299.  07930 999 014 (out of hours)
  • The DEC brings 13 leading UK aid charities together in times of crisis: ActionAid, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Oxfam, Plan International UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision; all collectively raising money to reach those in need quickly.
  • All DEC members will support the appeal and are supporting relief efforts on both sides of the border. DEC funds raised through this appeal will go towards humanitarian assistance in Bangladesh, and potentially in Myanmar if access to Rakhine state improves.
  • To make a postal donation make cheques payable to ‘DEC Emergency Appeal’ and mail to ‘PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA’. 
  • Donations can be made at any high street bank and at Post Office counters.
  • To donate £5 by text, send the word SUPPORT to 70000. The full £5 will go to the DEC Emergency Appeal. Donors must be 16 years or over and have bill payers’ permission. Texts are free and donations will be added to the bill.
  • The Scottish Government has already donated £120,000 from its newly established Humanitarian Emergency Fund, intended to provide life-saving aid wherever it is needed globally.
  • UK Government match funding will go directly to the DEC and provide vital emergency supplies. This new funding will double the impact of the public’s own donations up to £3 million and ensure that charities working on the ground can reach even more people in need.