War in the Balkans: Aid fund hits pounds 6.4m as 4,000 donors ring each hour

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The Independent Online
FUNDS RAISED by a national television appeal to help the Kosovo refugees have risen to pounds 6.4m, organisers said yesterday. The money has been gathered in just 48 hours after the appeal was launched by the television presenter Jill Dando and the actress Juliet Stevenson with broadcasts on Tuesday night.

A spokeswoman for the Disasters Emergency Committee of 12 leading charities that set up the appeal said yesterday: "The total is based on 217,000 phone calls, 19,735 of which came in today, from midnight to 4.30pm. There have been an average of 4,000 calls an hour overall and an average donation per call of pounds 31. We are delighted with the support from the public, and hope they will continue to support us." Donors have been told that pounds 5 will buy a blanket, pounds 10 a hygiene pack, pounds 30 will keep a family fed for a month - and pounds 250 will buy a tent to house several families.

The Independent launched the DEC appeal with its readers last week, prompting a massive response. Readers have so far pledged more than pounds 150,000 through 1,500 letters and 4,500 calls to the appealhotline.

The joint appeal has been organised on behalf of the British Red Cross, Christian Aid, Cafod, Care International UK, Children's Aid Direct, Concern Worldwide, Help The Aged, Merlin, Oxfam, Save The Children, Tearfund and World Vision - to prevent the public being bombarded with separate appeals. Charity heads said the scale of the tragedy was such that a carefully planned joint effort was needed to make sure the aid got to the people who most needed it as soon as possible.

Donations can be made to the appeal on 0870-606 0900 or 0990 222233. Donations can also be sent to Disasters Emergency Committee Kosovo Appeal, PO Box 999, London, EC4A 9AA. Cash can also be given at banks, building societies and post offices. Cheques should be made payable to the Kosovo Crisis Appeal. Updates on the appeal can be obtained via ITV Teletext page 520, or the DEC Internet site (www.dec.org.uk).