War in the Balkans: Thousands respond with cash to disaster appeal

THOUSANDS OF callers jammed telephone donation hotlines within an hour of the televised launch yesterday of the official charity appeal for Kosovar refugees.

The appeal, organised by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which has linked 12 UK charities - including Oxfam and the British Red Cross - already assisting the exiled Kosovars, was given a prime-time television launch in separate five minute briefings headed by Jill Dando on BBC, and the actress Juliet Stevenson on ITV.

The Independent launched the DEC appeal with its readers last week prompting a massive response. More than pounds 150,000 has been pledged already following 1,500 letters and 4,500 calls to the appeal hotline.

Yesterday's official launch is the next stage in the fundraising effort designed to avert the biggest humanitarian disaster in Europe since the Second World War. With almost one million ethnic Albanians forced from their homes, charity organisers were hopeful that the British public, spurred on by coverage of the conditions endured by the refugees, would give generously.

A spokeswoman for the DEC said 25,000 calls were received yesterday, even before the appeal was fully launched. Juliet Sober said 3,400 lines were available, 100 of which were answered by British Telecom volunteers with automated donation lines for the rest. She said: "We are hoping for an enormous response after the broadcasts."

The 12 charities involved are - 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. They had decided to collect financial donations rather than goods to simplify and speed up the aid work.

To illustrate the size of the problem, Julian Filochowski of that Catholic charity Cafod said Albania alone had absorbed around 10 per cent of its own population in refugees. He said: "It is like five million people suddenly arriving in Kent." Ama Annan of Christian Aid, who had just returned from Albania, said refugees were weakened by trauma, hunger, dehydration and cold.

Two telephone lines are open for donations. They are 0870 6060900 and 0990 222233. Donations can also be sent by post to: Disasters Emergency Committee Kosovo Appeal, PO Box 999, London, EC4A 9AA. Cash can be also given at banks, building societies and post offices. Cheques should be made payable to Kosovo Crisis Appeal. Updates on the appeal can be obtained via ITV Teletext page 520, or the DEC Internet site (www.dec.org).

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat