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The British Public and UK Aid Have Together Raised Millions for Indonesia Earthquake Effort

Why Global Citizens Should Care
The generosity of the British public, combined with UK aid funding, has the power to make a real difference around the world — whether that’s as direct humanitarian assistance in the wake of a natural disaster, or as funding designed to support peace efforts, stabilise economies, and empower populations in the long-term. You can join us by taking action here to raise your voice in support of UK aid.

It’s been less than two weeks since a double natural disaster hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. A 7.4 magnitude earthquake was followed by a tsunami, with over 1,900 people confirmed to have died in the tragedy. 

But over 5,000 people are still missing and feared dead, and it’s expected that the death toll will rise dramatically when casualties from two of the hardest hit areas of the city of Palu — Balaroa and Petobo — are confirmed. 

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These areas were buried in rivers of mud in the days after the quake as a result of soil liquefaction, which is when the solid ground turns to liquid. It’s believed that thousands of people may have been engulfed by the mud as it swallowed their homes. 

Take action: Tell Your MP Why You're Proud of UK Aid — and Call on Them to Make It as Effective as Possible

A further 62,000 people have been displaced by the double disaster, according to reports

“The double natural disaster has left a trail of destruction, making orphans of children, and leaving parents childless,” wrote Penny Mordaunt, the UK international development secretary, in the Guardian on Friday. “Tens of thousands of Indonesians are without shelter and in need of food and water, the basics we in the UK all take for granted.” 

The British public has been moved by the disaster to donate millions to the Disasters Emergency’s Committee (DEC) appeal, which was launched on Thursday. In its first day, the appeal raised £6 million to support the relief effort in Indonesia. By Monday, the total had reached over £10 million.

Mordaunt described the donations as “incredible generosity of the British people on behalf of those left suffering and bereaved,” adding that the “contributions will make a genuine difference to people who need it most.” 

The funds raised by the DEC appeal include £2 million of UK aid funding, under the UK Aid Match initiative, which sees the donations raised by the British public matched pound-for-pound by the government. 

“The situation in Indonesia remains desperate and hundreds of thousands of people urgently need food, clean water, shelter, as well as support in dealing with the trauma they have experienced,” said DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed. “As the full impact of the disaster unfolds, DEC member charities and their partners are ready to help devastated communities to rebuild their lives.” 

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The idea of UK aid match is to give the British public the power to lead on where and how UK aid funding is spent — so the initial £2 million raised by the public was matched by the government.

The aid match funding comes on top of the support already being provided by the UK government in response to the crisis, with UK aid funding. 

In the days following the earthquake, for example, the RAF delivered 17.5 tonnes of UK aid supplies to Indonesia, according to Sky News. That included shelter and hygiene kits — including toothpaste and soap — along with solar lanterns, and other much-needed practical items. 

The supplies also included equipment like a forklift truck and a conveyor belt, needed to help distribute the aid items as quickly as possible to those who need them most. 

“These are just some of the ways UK aid is making a very real difference in Indonesia right now,” continued Mordaunt. “But Britain doesn’t just step in, using its aid budget as a force for good in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters. In general, it also stands ready, when needed, to help as countries recover from humanitarian catastrophes.”

“We stay for the long haul, aiming to help countries recover, and ultimately become sustainable and prosperous,” she added. “We work to build resilience after natural disasters, to build back better so countries are better prepared to deal with crises in future.”

“The British public should know that UK aid and the money they give to the DEC appeal are getting to those who need it,” said Mordaunt. “It is incredibly challenging to get aid to those in need in Indonesia, but aid workers are battling to do just that and are making a monumental difference when they do.”