Amnesty to raise funds for crisis response unit

Annie Kelly

Amnesty International is asking supporters to donate funds for the first time specifically to its crisis response unit which reacts immediately to large-scale human rights abuses.

The International Secretariat, Amnesty International's research arm, only activates the crisis unit when it believes there is a danger of serious and imminent human rights abuse. Public response will be tested through an appeal that will focus on the massive humanitarian fallout of a war in Iraq.

Demand for the unit, which is a specialist team of people who offer a rapid response to specific humanitarian threats, has increased since 11 September.

This is the first time the International Secretariat has launched a large-scale appeal relating to one particular cause or country.

Louise Gage, special projects co-ordinator in Amnesty International's fundraising department, said the organisation would be careful to explain to supporters how the money will be used.

"We are not a disaster relief organisation and have taken measures to ensure that this is communicated through all our crisis response messages," she said.

"However, we have had to recognise that the need for this very specialist emergency response work has grown alarmingly over the past three years, and looks set to increase further.

"We hope that people will recognise that there is an ever-increasing need for us to use whatever resources are at our disposal to react to large-scale human rights crises."

Previously, any emergency action operations were funded by the organisation's general fundraising pool.

But the increasing need for emergency action has prompted Amnesty to establish a separate revenue stream to ensure that the unit can be immediately mobilised as and when it is necessary.

The campaign, which will be launched online at www.amnesty. org when war is declared, will appeal for funds as well as serving as an advocacy and campaigning channel for the organisation.

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