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Government urges public to send cash to charity rather than donations to Ukraine as Disasters Emergency Committee launches appeal



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People desperate to help Ukraine's stricken families are being urged to now send money rather than goods as the war enters its eighth day.

Generous communities across the country have been collecting everything from children's clothes to medicines in the hope of getting essentials to families forced to flee their homes by the conflict.

But as Russia's invasion moves into a second week - the government is encouraging those in the UK who want to support Ukraine to now instead direct money to aid organisations rather than giving physical items, which it says risk obstructing 'supply chains' as the conflict continues.

A woman cries outside houses damaged by a Russian air strike near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Picture: Vadim Ghirda/AP.
A woman cries outside houses damaged by a Russian air strike near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Picture: Vadim Ghirda/AP.

More than a million people are now estimated to have left Ukraine's towns and cities in search of a safe haven in neighbouring countries - with the majority crossing the border into Poland.

With men aged 18 to 60 required by Ukraine to stay behind should they be needed to fight, thousands of women, children and elderly people are now displaced and in need of shelter and food.

And while community groups, churches, schools and colleges are among those to have appealed for donations this past week - government officials say it is money that aid organisations now need most as they attempt to support hundreds of thousands of civilians caught up in the fighting.

Churches and community groups have been showing their support for Ukraine
Churches and community groups have been showing their support for Ukraine

Cash, it says, can be transferred quickly and easy to places and people by those working on the ground in the worst hit areas who can see where it is most needed.

The advice reads: "One of the best ways to help is by donating cash through trusted charities and aid organisations, rather than donating goods. Cash can be transferred quickly to areas where it is needed and individuals and aid organisations can use it to buy what is most needed.

"Unsolicited donations of goods, although well-meant, can obstruct supply chains and delay more urgent life-saving assistance from getting through."

Aid organisations, the government adds, are gathering essential supplies and will have lists of the items they know they need. The advice adds: "Charities with experience of responding to disasters are best placed to reach victims on the ground."

Deborah Meaden has explained why donating goods instead of money may be more difficult for organisations
Deborah Meaden has explained why donating goods instead of money may be more difficult for organisations

Businesswoman Deborah Meaden, who is part of the BBC's Dragon's Den panel, is also among those appealing to kind-hearted people keen to support Ukraine, to consider donating to charity rather than giving physical items she fears will struggle to make it across Europe seamlessly.

Writing to her 557,000 Twitter followers she explained: "Sorry to bang on but I really don't want your kindness to go to waste. Sending food and meds across EU is highly complex even for experts and nigh on impossible for hugely mixed loads of generous donated items."

She explained that storage and sorting problems when shipments arrive, customs arrangements and local aid organisations being able to buy in bulk using local currency to also in turn support the local economies and communities helping refugees, were all part of the reasons why sending money and not physical donations was so beneficial.

She added: "I don't want to say this as people are just being lovely and it is wonderful but I also know you want your help to get through."

The Disasters Emergency Committee is among those to have launched an urgent appeal for donations, with the UK Government promising to match 'pound-for-pound' up to £20million donated by the public.

The government is encouraging those who wish to help to donate money to the DEC
The government is encouraging those who wish to help to donate money to the DEC

Among the journalists on the ground to have shared news of the appeal is BBC Newsnight policy editor Lewis Goodall - who said that from his location in Poland it seemed officials already had plenty of donations with items also continuing to be dropped-off by people living in Poland also keen to help.

In sharing the DEC appeal link, he tweeted: "Lots of people asking me how they can help refugees. My experience here suggests there is a copious amount of supplies already. Best thing would be to donated through DEC."

Anyone wishing to donate to organisations helping in Ukraine is being encouraged by the UK government to use registered charities with a history of providing humanitarian relief.

To learn more about the DEC appeal, which the government is promising to match fund, click here.



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