An appeal to raise money for children in Afghanistan has raised £9.5 million in the first day.
The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Afghanistan Crisis Appeal will raise funds for member charities to urgently respond to conflict, economic collapse, drought, famine and Covid-19 in the country.
The actress Gillian Anderson, known for playing Margaret Thatcher in The Crown, is among the high-profile supporters of the campaign as appeals were broadcast on television on Wednesday.
Donations from the public will be matched pound-for-pound by the UK Government – up to a total of £10 million, with the amount raised so far just £500,000 away from that.
Anderson said: “Currently, women and girls in Afghanistan are going through pregnancy and labour in unimaginable conditions without a home or enough food to eat, and with the healthcare system falling apart.
“Hospitals are having to close due to a lack of supplies and medics. Newborn babies are already dying from malnutrition.
“DEC member charities are working on the ground in Afghanistan to help. Please donate what you can to give lifesaving help this winter.”
DEC charities, including the International Rescue Committee UK, British Red Cross, Save the Children and Cafod, say fast action is needed to help the eight million people at risk of starvation over winter.
A million children under the age of five are at risk of dying over the next three months, they have said.
DEC’s chief executive, Saleh Saeed, said: “We are extremely grateful for the huge generosity of everyone in the UK who has donated.
“We also thank the UK Government who will match pound for pound the first £10 million donated by the British people, as well as our broadcast partners for having aired the appeal, reaching millions of viewers and listeners.
“The situation in Afghanistan is beyond horrific – we can’t just sit back and watch. If we don’t act now, many lives could be lost as the harsh winter sets in, with children amongst those most vulnerable.
“DEC charities are already on the ground, scaling up their operations to reach the people most in need. We urge people to continue donating.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “The British people have shown incredible generosity and the UK is determined to do all we can for the people of Afghanistan.
“We have doubled our aid this year to save lives, protect women and girls and support stability in the region.”