The Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC), which launches appeals to the British public, has announced it will not be coming to the aid of the people of the Caribbean. In a brief statement they DEC says its criteria have not been met.


These the criteria:

  • The disaster must be on such a scale and of such urgency as to call for swift international humanitarian assistance
  • The DEC member agencies, or some of them, must be in a position to provide effective and swift humanitarian assistance at a scale to justify a national appeal
  • There must be reasonable grounds for concluding that a public appeal would be successful, either because of evidence of existing public sympathy for the humanitarian situation or because there is a compelling case indicating the likelihood of significant public support should an appeal be launched

Surely all these criteria have been met. Not so, says the DEC.

In a phone interview Richard Dye, the DEC Director of Finance said: “This is not of a scale that needs a DEC appeal.”

He argued that some are British territories which can be helped by the British government. When I questioned this he said that the British government already had reserves in place to deal with the damage and it was not appropriate for the DEC to appeal to the British public.

Can this be right?

Look at what the hurricane did to just two islands: Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua Barbuda

Is it any wonder that they feel abandoned?

First by the British government – with Dorothea Hodge, a former UK EU representative for the government of Anguilla, describing the official response as “pathetic” and “disgraceful”.

Now the aid agencies are refusing to act – by putting out a joint appeal to the British public, which would raise millions.

Instead, individual charities, like the Red Cross have issued appeals. 

But unlike the DEC appeals they will not receive massive television and newspaper coverage, and are therefore unlikely to raise the sums these islanders need to rebuild their lives.