Press Release: Aid agencies announce DEC Disasters Broadcast Appeal for Haiti

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Leading UK aid agencies announced today (Thursday) that radio and television broadcasts on Friday will appeal for donations to help those affected by the huge earthquake that devastated the capital of Haiti.

Actor John Hurt and presenter Kirsty Young will front appeals asking for help for the impoverished nation struck by the quake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale on Tuesday.

The president of Haiti says he fears that tens of thousands of people have died but the full extent of the suffering remains unclear.

Up to three million people live in the area worst hit by the quake centred 10 miles southwest of the capital Port-au-Prince. Many have lost homes and their livelihoods. Essential services have been badly hit.

John Hurt said today: "This is a huge tragedy that has affected millions of people living in one of the poorest nations in the world.

"Please give generously so aid agencies can bring medicine, clean water, and other essentials to help get these people back on their feet."

There are not enough body bags to collect the dead lying in the streets. There are concerns that supply of drinking water will last only several more days.

Announcing the broadcast appeal, Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Chief Executive Brendan Gormley said:

"This huge quake has ripped apart the lives of millions of people in one of the poorest nations of the world.

"It is clear after the immediate rescue attempt is completed we will be left with ongoing humanitarian challenges.

"DEC member agencies and their partners are responding but face terrible suffering. We urgently need the public's help for their work."

Members of the DEC are grappling with huge logistical difficulties to bring aid into the country as attempts continue to rescue survivors from the rubble of ruined buildings.

Roads are blocked, few planes can land at the city's airport, and communications with the area are sporadic.

UKagencies working on the ground report that hospitals that survived the quake are running out of medicine to treat the many wounded and are struggling to cope.

Controlling infectious diseases and diarrhoea in the coming days will be a major challenge in a country that had poor infrastructure and healthcare before the quake struck.

The U.N. and other agencies that would have been at the forefront of efforts to bring relief are among those that have been badly affected by the quake.

To make a donation to the DEC Haiti appeal visit http://www.dec.org.uk or donate over the counter at any post office or high street bank, or send a cheque - see details below.

Anyone wanting to stay up to date with developments in Haiti, the emergency response and the fundraising efforts can follow the DEC on twitter at http://twitter.com/decappeal or become a fan of 'Disasters-Emergency-Committee-DEC' on Facebook.