Syria crisis: UK's DEC appeal raises £3.4m

Syrian internally displaced people walk in the Atme camp, along the Turkish border
Image caption The conflict in Syria has forced three million people to flee their homes

An aid appeal by UK charities to help people affected by the conflict in Syria has raised £3.4m in two days.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) said more than five million people need urgent humanitarian aid, with three million of those now homeless.

The DEC will use the money in Syria and neighbouring countries where more than one million refugees have fled.

Chief executive Saleh Saeed said the British public had responded with "huge generosity" to the appeal.

The DEC is an umbrella group of 14 of the UK's leading aid charities which come together to meet crisis situations.

It includes aid agencies such as the British Red Cross, Islamic Relief, Oxfam and Save the Children.

The British Red Cross is supporting the Syrian Arab Red Crescent which is helping two million people a month.

Mr Saeed said: "The public is responding with huge generosity to this catastrophic humanitarian crisis. The fighting inside Syria has torn lives apart, forcing people to leave their homes to flee to neighbouring countries.

"This vital fundraising must continue to help save lives and reduce the suffering of Syrian people."

The appeal was launched on Thursday by actor Rufus Sewell, broadcaster Michael Palin, journalist John McCarthy and actress Juliet Stephenson.

The DEC is already providing vital aid such as food, clean water, emergency shelter and medical care.

The money that has come in since the appeal started will enable the organisations to provide increased help.

Of those who have been forced to flee, two million are in other parts of Syria and one million have escaped across the border.

The numbers leaving the country have increased from 1,000 a day to 8,000 a day since the start of the year.

Charities said the health system had collapsed in many areas, water supplies were disrupted and food was often in short supply.

Last week saw the second anniversary of the Syrian uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

This initially began as a wave of peaceful protests but is now often described as a civil war in which an estimated 70,000 people have been killed.

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