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What is the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC)?

Last updated 4 August 2023

Who is the DEC?

When a major emergency occurs overseas, the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) brings together 15 UK charities – the British Red Cross included – to raise funds for an effective, coordinated response. 

The DEC launches appeals during times of monumental suffering like the recent earthquakes that have devastated Türkiye (Turkey) and Syria, or the Pakistan floods in August 2022 providing funding for disaster relief. 

Founded in 1963, its first appeal responded to the August 1966 earthquake in Varto, eastern Turkey. Since then, the committee has run 76 appeals and raised more than £1.7 billion as disaster emergency funding, saving millions of lives and helping rebuild communities devastated by disasters.

The other charities on the committee are Action Against Hunger, ActionAid, Age International, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, Care, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, International Rescue Committee, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Plan International, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.

When you donate to a DEC appeal, the money goes on to each of the 15 member charities, who then deliver aid through their own operations in each affected area. A donation to the DEC provides support for people most in need at that time. 

“Pooling our resources to work as one, we are pivotal in co-ordinating the UK public's response to overseas disasters." The Disaster Emergency Committee 

DEC current appeals

The DEC has launched 77 appeals since its inception, raising £2.2 billion to save lives and support communities. Most recently, appeals were launched after the 2022 Pakistan floods and the Turkey-Syria earthquake in 2023. At any time there may be several active appeals the DEC is fundraising for. They also monitor ongoing crises around the world that may develop into situations that meet their appeal criteria.


When does the DEC launch an appeal?

Appeals are only launched when the DEC know they can make a difference and that they can raise a substantial amount of money to help. There are many factors that go into deciding whether or not to launch an appeal. If a country has the capacity to respond to an emergency itself, there won't be a reason to launch an appeal campaign. Public awareness in the UK is another factor that contributes to the decision.

This is judged using the following appeal criteria:

  • The disaster must be on such a scale and of such urgency as to call for swift international humanitarian assistance.
  • The DEC’s member charities, or some of them, must be in a position to provide effective and swift humanitarian assistance at a scale to justify a national appeal.
  • There must be reasonable grounds for concluding that a public appeal would be successful, either because of evidence of existing public sympathy for the humanitarian situation or because there is a compelling case indicating the likelihood of significant public support should an appeal be launched.

Recent DEC appeals with the British Red Cross

In February 2023, the DEC launched the Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal, following two powerful earthquakes which impacted southern Turkiye (Turkey) and northern Syria. 

The earthquakes killed over 44,000 people with a further 70,000 injured. The earthquakes were estimated to have directly impacted 23 million people

Emergency responders from the Turkish Red Crescent and Syrian Arab Red Crescent have been on the ground providing urgent humanitarian relief and supporting rescue efforts. 

In Turkiye (Turkey) more than 350 mobile kitchens and 86 catering trucks were deployed to provide food for people in the weeks after the earthquake. As it happened during the winter, the Turkish Red Crescent aimed to deliver over 50,000 blankets, 10,000 electric heaters, 25,000 sleeping bags, and 25,000 beds to the region.

Across the border, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent delivered life-saving assistance and support to those in need in the regions of Hama, Aleppo, and Lattakia. 

Over 4,000 staff and volunteers and 53 Red Crescent ambulances were deployed to help with search and rescue efforts, providing first aid or transporting injured to medical facilities. The Red Crescent also provided support on human remains management as well as restoring family links, providing psychosocial support services, and establishing community shelters, and relief distributions.


Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal

Our emergency responders are on the ground now, assisting in relief efforts and providing emergency support to people affected by the earthquakes. Together, we are the world's emergency responders. If you can, please donate today.