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Fundraising appeal launched after violent clashes in Burma

The UK Government has pledged to match the first £3 million donated by the public to the DEC emergency appeal.

A major fundraising appeal has been launched to help the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing violence in Burma.

The 13 member charities who make up the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) took action to step up their humanitarian relief in the wake of more than half a million people seeking medical care, food and sanctuary.

The majority of those are Muslim ethnic minority Rohingya people, who have fled to Bangladesh amid atrocities and fatalities in Rakhine state, on Burma’s western coast, following clashes between insurgents and security forces in recent weeks.

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A Rohingya child cries kneeling on the ground at a makeshift camp near Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh (Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/AP)

The UK Government has pledged to match the first £3 million donated by the public to the DEC emergency appeal.

A campaign video is due to be shown by all major UK broadcasters following the appeal’s launch on Wednesday.

DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed said: “People are arriving exhausted and traumatised into already overcrowded camps in Bangladesh. This is one of the fastest movements of people we have seen in recent decades.

“Families are living in makeshift shelters or by the side of the road with no clean drinking water, toilets or washing facilities. This humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in a country that is already reeling from the worst floods in decades.

“Without urgent support, the risk of disease and further misery is alarmingly high.”

DEC member charities are already on the ground in Bangladesh delivering emergency aid but said they need more funding to reach people in urgent need.

Aung San Suu Kyi – the civilian leader of Burma, also known as Myanmar – has repeatedly faced criticism from across the globe for her refusal to condemn the actions of the security forces.

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Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticised (Paul Faith/PA)

International Development Secretary Priti Patel said: “I am appalled that more than half a million Rohingya have been forced to flee their homes because of the horrific violence in Burma.

“Those who escaped, carrying little or nothing, have had to make the treacherous journey across the border into Bangladesh to seek safety, with countless people dying or losing loved ones.

“The relentless denial of aid is a matter of life and death for those still in northern Rakhine.

“It is utterly intolerable that the military who are responsible for this inhumane catastrophe have not heeded calls for restraint, and pleas to allow those who are now refugees to return safely to their homes.”

To make a donation to the DEC emergency appeal visit www.dec.org.uk, call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 610, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque. Alternatively, donate £5 by texting the word SUPPORT to 70000.

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