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Scottish charity to play key part in UK's new disaster response network

The Edinburgh-headquartered charity Mercy Corps was today confirmed by the UK Government's International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell as one of the top organisations specialising in disaster response to be selected for a new UK rapid response network.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Edinburgh-headquartered Mercy Corps was today confirmed by the UK Government’s International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell as one of the top organisations specialising in disaster response to be selected for a new UK rapid response network. It means the charity will be among those able to respond quicker as part of the UK Government’s response to major crises across the world.

The network, called the Rapid Response Facility, will mobilise life saving support in the critical hours following a humanitarian disaster, improving the UK’s response to major international crises, such as famine, floods and earthquakes.

Following a disaster, equipment, experts and vital aid are too often tied up with paperwork, rather than being immediately deployed, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said.

The new system allows the UK’s top organisations with extensive experience in disaster response to access funding within hours, thereby reaching affected people faster and saving more lives.

Mercy Corps’ teams of experts have decades of experience responding to humanitarian emergencies. The organisation helped more than 1.5 million people survive the drought and famine that hit the Horn of Africa last year. Teams in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia responded with a whole range of assistance, including clean water for almost 500,000 people, food and treatment for 42,000 malnourished children and emergency cash to allow 26,000 families to buy the essentials they needed to survive.

The new facility will have a game-changing impact on Mercy Corps’ ability to deliver aid in the critical hours and days after a disaster, said Executive Director Mervyn Lee. It will enable the organisations’ experts to get life-saving help to affected communities faster, and focus on aid delivery rather than paperwork and sourcing funding.

The new Rapid Response Facility will be activated in the event of a future large scale humanitarian crisis. Mercy Corps along with the other UK charities and businesses selected will be approached within hours, enabling them to get aid to affected people in the critical first 72 hours following a disaster.

UK International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell said:

“Mercy Corps is one of the very best performing disaster response agencies and plays a critical role in the UK’s life-saving work to help people struck by disaster.  The UK is a world leader in this field and I’m glad Mercy Corps is part of this crucial next step with the UK government. 

“We need our best experts, equipment and aid on the ground as quickly as possible after a disaster, not tied up in red tape.  They need to be able to do their job in that vital window of 72 hours, to save as many lives as possible.

Mervyn Lee, Executive Director of Mercy Corps’ European Headquarters in Edinburgh said:

“We know from years of experience that acting quickly saves lives and every day counts. The Rapid Response Facility will help us get essentials like clean water, emergency supplies and health treatment to those who need them within days rather than weeks. And by being on the ground from the very beginning we can help communities not only survive the immediate crisis they face, but to recover and have the chance to rebuild their lives for the long term too.”

Published 7 March 2012