Birmingham-based charity Islamic Relief is to join a network of experts who can be called on by the Government in times of international crisis, such as famine, floods and earthquakes.
The new facility will mobilise life-saving support from Britain’s best businesses and charities in the critical hours after a disaster strikes.
“Supplies, experts and vital aid are too often tied up with paperwork, rather than being deployed straight to the disaster zone”, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell says.
The new facility allows organisations with experience in disaster response to access funding within hours, thereby reaching affected people faster and saving more lives. It will mean the best organisations from across the UK can be mobilised in the critical first 72 hours following a disaster.
Islamic Relief is one of an initial 34 non-government organisations that specialise in disaster response which have been invited by the UK Government to join the network.
The new Rapid Response Fund will be activated in the event of a large-scale crisis. The selected organisations will be approached within two hours and expected to take immediate action.
Andrew Mitchell said: “Clearly we need our best experts, equipment and aid on the scene as quickly as possible after a disaster, not tied up in red tape. Islamic Relief need to be able to do their job in that vital window of 72 hours, to save as many lives as possible.
“Only the professionals, with relevant skills and equipment will be approved. By working with a small pool of specialists, we will end the dangerous crush of aid organisations which often pour into a disaster zone.
“These organisations represent the very best performing disaster response agencies. This will allow them to focus on delivery. Make no mistake; however, qualification for the fund will be revoked at the first sign of poor performance.”
Islamic Relief’s International Programmes Director, Dr. Hossam Said, said: “We are excited to be a part of this rapid response network and honoured to be working with 33 exceptional organisations to fulfil an important role in responding to the world’s emergencies.
“Islamic Relief was established in 1984 in reaction to the famine in Sudan and Ethiopia, and throughout our history emergency response has been a central component of our work. Our involvement in the Government’s rapid response network is an acknowledgement of the part we have played in dealing with major emergencies such as the Indian ocean tsunami, the Haitian earthquake, floods in Pakistan and famine in Somalia.”
Lord Ashdown’s review of how Britain responds to humanitarian emergencies said that a pre-qualification process would ensure there was a focus on delivery, not bureaucracy, in the first critical stage of disaster response.
Birmingham-based Islamic Relief is an international development agency that works in over 25 countries around the world, supporting and empowering vulnerable communities to help bring them out of poverty.