A group of 15 UK charities have launched a joint fundraising appeal to help more than a million refugees fleeing Ukraine as the Russian invasion “turns lives upside down”.
The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) began the effort on Thursday, with one member executive describing the situation as one of the most “heart-breaking he had ever seen”.
People fleeing Ukraine are in desperate need of food, water, medical assistance and protection, with many forced into hiding to stay safe.
“The majority crossing the borders are women and children arriving with only what they can carry,” the DEC added.
It is estimated up to four million people could flee the country due to the conflict.
Every pound donated by the British public will be matched by the government – up to the value of £20 million, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.
Thirteen DEC member organisations including British Red Cross and ActionAid are responding in Ukraine and its neighbouring countries to the Russian invasion, according to the committee.
Among those on the ground was Andrew Morley, chief executive of World Vision International, who has returned from Siret on the Romanian border.
He said: “We support children in countless crises across the world, including those I have recently visited such as Syria and the DRC, but I have never seen a more heartbreaking situation.
“All the children I met were crossing the border in tears, with pain and fear in their eyes.
“They were lost and scared.
“They need the basics, simple, practical help.
“Our staff have been present in this area for decades and there on the ground to deliver it, but we need financial support to do this.”
Appeals for funds will be broadcast on news channels – including Sky News – on Thursday.
The Prime Minister first announced the appeal in PMQs, saying: “Time and time again the British people have proved responsive and generous when confronted with a global emergency, and so I have no doubt that millions will support this vital appeal.
“That is also why the UK Government will match every pound donated to the Disasters Emergency Committee by the British public, ensuring vital supplies and support reaches those left homeless, displaced and distraught by this war.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “The UK stands with people fleeing this terrible conflict and we are working with our humanitarian partners to provide for those in need in Ukraine and the wider region in their hour of need.
“Through the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, we will match, pound for pound, up to £20 million of donations from the Great British public, ensuring vital support reaches communities in desperate need of help.”
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.