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Saleh Saeed OBE, Chief Executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC): Uniting for Global Humanitarian Relief


In a captivating conversation with Saleh Saeed OBE, the Chief Executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), listeners are treated to an in-depth exploration of the DEC's vital role in responding to global disasters and humanitarian crises. With a history spanning 60 years, the DEC stands as a testament to the collective power of the UK's leading charities, coordinating efforts to deliver rapid and effective aid to those in dire need.


Saleh delves into the unique operational model of the DEC, emphasising its reliance on a broad partnership network that includes 15 member charities such as Oxfam, Save the Children, and the British Red Cross, alongside a strategic alliance with major UK broadcasters. This synergy enables the DEC to launch impactful appeals that galvanise public support and funding, which are crucial for immediate humanitarian response.


The discussion also sheds light on the critical criteria guiding the DEC's activation: the scale of unmet humanitarian needs, the capacity for effective intervention, and the level of public sympathy and awareness. These criteria ensure that the DEC's efforts are both necessary and supported, allowing for swift action in the wake of disasters like the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which alone raised an astonishing £420 million.


Saleh offers a behind-the-scenes look at the DEC's operational dynamics when disasters strike, highlighting the pre-established preparedness and the rapid mobilisation of resources and partnerships that enable an immediate response. This efficiency is underscored by a transparent and accountable fund distribution system that ensures donations are swiftly channeled to where they are most needed, supporting life-saving and protective aid efforts.


Moreover, the episode touches on the evolution of the DEC over its 60-year history, including the expansion of its member charities and the cap on membership to maintain effective fund distribution. Saleh also addresses the importance of ongoing support from corporates and individuals, even in times of calm, to bolster the DEC's readiness for future crises.


Saleh's message resonates with the ethos of collaboration and joint effort. He passionately advocates for greater partnership and less competition within the humanitarian and wider charity sectors, emphasising that united efforts can significantly amplify the impact and reach of aid, making a profound difference in the lives of those affected by disasters and crises.


About Saleh Saeed OBE


Saleh has headed up the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) since 2012, which brings together 15 leading UK aid agencies in times of major humanitarian crises overseas.


During Saleh’s tenure, the DEC has launched 15 national emergency appeals raising over £1bn for crises that included Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, the Pakistan Floods, Covid-19 in the world's most fragile places, the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal and most recently the Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal.

Before joining the DEC, Saleh has held senior positions in the NGO sector including as Chief Executive of Islamic Relief Worldwide, a DEC member. Saleh has also led a number of programmes for local public sector partnerships in the UK, including an innovative programme to promote access to new learning and social activities through the use of digital technologies.


In 2013, Saleh was awarded an OBE for services to humanitarian work and in 2019, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Birmingham City University.


In his hometown of West Bromwich, Saleh co-founded The Yemeni Community Association in Sandwell, which has been recognised with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services for its work in supporting women, children and refugees of all ages and backgrounds.


Saleh is also currently Chair of the Emergencies Appeals Alliance - a unique global partnership that unites national joint appeal organisations like the DEC in a common purpose to increase funds raised from the global public for disasters overseas, and to support raising standards in aid delivery.


Saleh is also a Non-Executive Director for Reclaim Fund which enables funds in dormant bank and building society accounts to be used to help good causes. It distributes surplus monies for the benefit of good causes across the UK whilst always holding sufficient funds to meet reclaims.




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