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Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet DEC aid workers as Ukraine appeal reaches £300 million and charities lay out response plans

The Duke and Duchess met the DEC’s Chief Executive Saleh Saeed as well as aid workers who have recently returned from Ukraine and neighbouring countries where 5 million refugees have fled.

• The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Disaster Emergency Committee’s (DEC)’s offices, meeting aid workers to hear about the impact of the humanitarian response to the crisis in Ukraine
• The DEC’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal has now raised over £300 million to help families affected by the crisis over the weeks, months and years ahead
• DEC charities have laid out their initial plans to help people affected by the conflict, budgeting £75 million for the first six months, with 55% being spent inside Ukraine
The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to its London offices today as it was announced that the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal had raised over £300 million.

The Duke and Duchess met the DEC’s Chief Executive Saleh Saeed as well as aid workers who have recently returned from Ukraine and neighbouring countries where 5 million refugees have fled. They also spoke to staff on the ground in Ukraine via video link to get a clearer picture of the current situation and hear about how aid is helping people in need. They also heard how the crisis in Ukraine is having far reaching consequences in other countries by driving up food prices.

The visit came as the 13 member charities of the DEC that are responding to the crisis laid out their plans for their response over the first six months. Many charities started spending funds immediately and these plans now give a more detailed account of how DEC charities plan to spend money up until the end of August – although as the situation is so fluid that they may be adjusted to suit the needs on the ground. A full summary and examples are included below.

Speaking to the Duke and Duchess via video link from Kyiv, Rachael Cummings, Health Lead for Save the Children in Ukraine said: “What the DEC funds have meant is that we’ve been able to significantly scale up our existing work in the country. We’re building our response to providing mobile health units, trauma kits, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, nutrition support and safe drinking water to respond to this crisis. We’re particularly concerned about the devastating effect on children and these funds mean that we can ensure that children receive high quality care and support now, and in the months ahead.”

Vanessa Maynard, Programmes and Operations Officer for Christian Aid, who was at the DEC’s offices, told the Duke and Duchess: “I’ve just returned from Hungary where with DEC funds we’ve been responding rapidly through our existing network of local partners. We’re helping integrate refugees into the communities by supporting them with group cash so they can decide for themselves how best to address their specific needs like buying nappies, paying rent for the lodgings in host communities, or even pet food as many have fled with their animals as they couldn’t bear to leave without them. We’re also providing them with hot meals, temporary rest in community centres, safe spaces for children to receive trauma care, and information on their rights when they arrive in the host countries.”

Vital fundraising efforts are ongoing with donations continuing to come in and individuals, companies, schools and arts organisations raising money for the appeal. The £300 million total includes £25 million of match funding from the UK Government.

DEC Chief Executive Saleh Saeed said: “DEC charities have been quickly and efficiently scaling up their work to help people inside Ukraine and refugees fleeing over the border. We are seeing the real impact of the work they are doing, whether that is incubators for babies born under bombardment in Ukraine or vital protection work to ensure that vulnerable refugees are kept safe as they flee the conflict.

“We are incredibly grateful to the generous British public, to all the inspiring people and organisations that continue to do all they can to support people affected by this devastating conflict. We have seen everything from homemade badges sold in village shops to beautiful limited-edition artwork and of course, the Concert for Ukraine, which was broadcast not only nationally, but inside Ukraine as people watched the visible display of support from laptops in underground bunkers. It feels as though everyone is doing their bit and more.”

Summary of planned spending from DEC charities in first six months

DEC charities have so far budgeted £75 million to spend over the first six months of the response. Funds from the appeal will be spent over a period of three years to meet the ongoing needs of people affected by the conflict. Below is a summary of their planned expenditure, although these plans may be adjusted to meet changing needs on the ground.

• Cash: 22% will support the needs of affected people (internally displaced people, refugees, and in some cases members of the host communities) through cash payments to meet vital basic needs. This will be delivered using a variety of approaches such as pre-paid cards and digital transfers.
• Health: 21% will be spent on provision of primary healthcare services, providing items like trauma kits and first aid kits, as well as supporting healthcare facilities with equipment such as incubators and oxygen compressors and vital pharmaceutical products.
• Food: 13% will be spent on delivering food provisions (sugar, salt, oatmeal, canned sardines, white rice and black tea), hot meals or by using supermarket vouchers.
• Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: 10% will be spent on safe drinking water, hygiene information and hygiene kits.
• Protection: 9% will be spent on psychosocial support for women, children, older people and people with disabilities, and stress management training sessions.
• Shelter: 3% will be spent on bed linen, blankets, towels, kitchen sets, jerry cans, buckets for displaced people and host communities.

Examples of DEC-funded projects:

Inside Ukraine

• CAFOD is working with a local partner to deliver food to vulnerable people including through soup kitchens, supplying daily meals, weekly food baskets and preparing hot food to support the vulnerable, elderly and families living in the metro and bomb shelters.
• The British Red Cross will be using DEC funds, working through ICRC, to provide primary health care services including war wounded kits, surgical team training for the wounded, supplying medicine and materials for authorities to assist caring for wounded civilians and internally displaced persons (IDPs) , first aid training and psychological support sessions in shelters. They also plan to distribute key relief items including sleeping mats, hygiene materials, temporary shelter through tarpaulins for urgent repairs to homes, provision of bottled water and food assistance.
• Age International, through local partner HelpAge, will provide food assistance in the form of food kits, (including buckwheat grain, pasta, beans, canned meat, sunflower oil, sugar, salt, oatmeal, canned sardines, rice and black tea), hygiene and sanitation kits and cash transfers.
• Save the Children is providing mobile health units, trauma kits, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, nutrition support and safe drinking water.
• Concern Worldwide is supporting households with cash in three monthly installments and providing local self-help groups and civil society groups with cash to support conflict-afflicted communities.

In neighbouring countries

• In Hungary – Christian Aid, through local partners, is providing shelter, safe spaces for refugees to receive trauma care, information on rights, food and multi-purpose cash.
• In Moldova – CARE International will be training volunteers on psychological first aid and will be supporting the establishment of arrival spaces, facilitate inter-agency coordination and enable services for first line responders. They will also support collective shelters to scale up to provide adequate access to accommodation, food and protection services. Action Against Hunger is distributing food for refugees and host communities and providing nutrition support in refugee centres and border crossings.
• In Poland – ActionAid, through local partners, will provide cash support to help refugees meet their basic needs and at assistance points will provide food, water and hygiene items. They will also target women and girls who may be at risk of gender-based violence and trafficking by providing protection services. International Rescue Committee is supporting refugees with cash so that families can safely meet their immediate basic needs. Oxfam will provide improved access to water and sanitation facilities for refugees, gender-based violence and psycho-social support services, safe spaces and legal assistance.
• In Romania – World Vision, directly and through international and local partners and faith leaders, will provide refugees in camps with food, hygiene and dignity kits, shelter and temporary sanitation. Plan International will provide children and family support hubs at border sites and transit routes, protection referrals, gender-based violence and child protection information and outreach, dignity kits and other essential items.

Notes to editors:

Media enquiries please call 020 7387 0200 or 07930 999 014 (out of hours).

Spokespeople available in Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Moldova and the UK.  For more information or to request interviews in advance please contact: [email protected]

A collection of images and footage of people affected by the conflict and DEC member charities responding both inside Ukraine and on its borders is available here.

Via a video link from Ukraine the Duke and Duchess met Giuliano Stochino Weiss, emergency response lead for Hungarian Interchurch Aid, one of Christian Aid’s partners,  Rachael Cummings, Health lead for Save the Children and Alexander Matheou, International Federation Red Cross (IFRC) Special Representative to Ukraine, leading the response to the crisis. IFRC are funded by DEC member charity British Red Cross.

In the DEC’s offices the Duke and Duchess met humanitarian experts including Diana Hiscock, Humanitarian Inclusion Advisor for HelpAge International (DEC member charity Age International’s partner), just back from Moldova, Vanessa Maynard, Programme Operations and Quality Officer for Christian Aid, just back from Ukraine and Hungary and Bethan Lewis Head of Disaster Risk Management, Plan International UK, who will give an overview of the impact of the Ukraine crisis on other humanitarian issues and crises around the world.

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.

The UK Government match funded up to £25 million of public donations to the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. This is the largest commitment ever made to a DEC appeal through UK Aid Match and will double the impact of public donations, ensuring that charities working on the ground can reach those in urgent need.

Through UK Aid Match the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) gives the British public the opportunity to have a say in how the UK aid budget is spent whilst boosting the impact of the very best British charities to change and save the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

UK Aid Match has increased the impact of a number of DEC appeals to help those in need around the world, including most recently to support people in Afghanistan through DEC’s Afghanistan Appeal in 2021.

Enquiries about UK Aid Match and UK Government support for Ukraine should be directed to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Newsdesk. Please email [email protected]

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.

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