Huw Owen: Why the Disasters Emergency Committee needs your help in Indonesia

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Another week starts with wild autumn weather forecast and a miserable school run or commute. We curse the elements and wish we could curl up back in bed and leave it for another day.

Understandably our world revolves around our immediate priorities, our families, our work and environment; that is more than enough to be getting on with.

However, imagine if this morning you were waking up lying on a ragged piece of tarpaulin, homeless without food or water, with some of your family dead, injured or missing. That is the terrifying reality for thousands of Indonesians in Sulawesi after their towns were consumed by last week’s powerful earthquake and the devastating tsunami which swept away pretty much everything in its wake.

Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed and communities have been decimated, the number of deaths steadily climbing beyond 1,700. It’s likely to take months just to find all of the dead.

In the face of this devastation and chaos so far away it is sometimes difficult to know how to react. Yes, huge sympathy, but what can I do?


That’s where the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) comes in.

Fourteen of the UK’s leading international aid charities in partnership with the main UK broadcasters have over 50 years built up a powerful network of expertise and compassion under our simple motto: Together We Are Stronger. It has inspired millions to donate and then make sure the money kindly given gets quickly to those so badly affected.

In Scotland, the DEC has only recently established a full-time presence. We have done so because we believe this approach will be strongly supported by the public. We are delighted that the Scottish Government has already donated nearly £200,000 to the appeal through its humanitarian emergency fund. With £2 million pledged by the UK government, this support gives the DEC a strong platform to build on.

In the coming days, with your money, our member charities and their local partners will closely support the Indonesian authorities to provide food, clean water, first aid and shelter, as well as helping survivors to cope with the recent trauma.

People urgently need ready-to-eat rations. A number of hospitals have been destroyed or badly damaged so health care and medical supplies are vital. Most crucial, of course, is clean drinking water. Without water purification tablets and effective waste disposal, the risk of a disease outbreak is ever present.

Many homes were submerged as earth turned into liquid mud. In the long term, survivors will need help to rebuild their homes, communities and livelihoods. Sadly, the shadow of future shocks hangs over these people.

With your support, the DEC and its partners in the UK and Sulawesi are starting to make a difference. We can do so much more if you can make a donation online at, by phone on 0370 60 60 900 or you can text SUPPORT to 70000 to donate £5.

Despite your urgent priorities and commitment at home and at work, we ask you to take a moment and rally in support of your wider global family. In Scotland, when family is in trouble, everyone rallies round.

Thanks for your support.

Huw Owen is external relations manager for Scotland at the DEC