LETTERS : Aid agencies' concern over cash and care

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From Mr Jamie McCaul and others Sir: Richard Dowden's article (``Aid agencies cut-throat cash battle'', 21 December) reflects a number of the difficult challenges facing the Disasters Emergency Committee and its members.

There is indeed cause for concern about the activities of some relief organisations (not DEC agencies) which go into disaster areas for a short period and leave when the television cameras leave - before the job is done. It is important not just to save lives in the short term, but also to support those in need in the long term. That is why the DEC agencies are all still very much involved with programmes in and on the borders of Rwanda.

Despite the pressures of competition and the huge demands placed upon us by disasters, we remain committed to working closely together within the DEC to ensure an effective response to emergencies, raising funds responsibly and putting humanitarian needsfirst. We believe that is why the public want and why their support remains so strong - as Richard Dowden points out, our Rwanda appeal succeeded in raising £36.2m.

As for membership of the DEC, the rules allow for more agencies to be co-opted on a case by case basis.

With regard to Rwanda, no DEC agency broke the rules by launching its own appeal alongside the DEC's in May. It was only when the appeal was relaunched in July - an unprecedented situation - that we agreed collectively to relax the rules.

Yours faithfully, JAMIE McCAUL Executive Secretary Disasters Emergency Committee NIGEL TWOSE International Director Actionaid MICHAEL WHITLAM Director, British Red Cross JULIAN FILOCHOWSKI Director, Cafod MICHAEL TAYLOR Director, Christian Aid JOHN MAYO Director General, Help the Aged DAVID BRYER Director, Oxfam MIKE AARONSON Overseas Director Save the Children Fund London, SE1

22 December