Donors pledge to support people affected by crisis through the UN’s emergency response fund

Claudia Hargarten

Today the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) hosted its High-Level pledging conference for 2017. Thirty-three donors pledged US$273 million to the Fund to support urgent aid whenever, wherever crises hit.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the conference. “I am proud to have served as UN Secretary-General during much of CERF’s successful first decade,” he said. “A strong United Nations needs a strong CERF.”

Since CERF was established in 2006, its annual funding target of $450 million has remained unchanged. During these years, global humanitarian needs have quadrupled and more than 128 million people are in need of assistance today. The ever-increasing scale and intensity of emergencies points to the need for a larger, more robust CERF to address the growing needs. To that end, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called to increase the Fund’s annual target to $1 billion by 2018. Last week, Member States answered this call for solidarity by adopting the United Nations General Assembly in RES A/71/L.32 in support of a target more in line with the escalating requirements.

Following the Secretary-General’s remarks, a high-level panel, moderated by CNN anchor Jake Tapper, discussed why the funding is needed to enable the CERF to improve the humanitarian community’s ability to assist people affected by conflict and crises, particularly displaced people and host communities. In 2016, the number of forcibly displaced people reached a record high with more than 65 million people forced from their homes. In the past two years, close to 70 per cent of CERF’s funding has been allocated (or targeted) to humanitarian operations that support displaced people and the communities hosting them.

“As we struggle to address the scale and complexity of unprecedented humanitarian challenges, CERF has never been more relevant than today,” noted Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien. “CERF is a success story that we all can be proud of. The yellow fever outbreak in Angola halted by an extensive and timely vaccination campaign is an example of where CERF played a critical role.”

The panel consisted of Mr. O’Brien, Foreign Minister to Uganda H.E. Mr. Sam Kahamba Kutesa, Minister for Development Cooperation of Denmark H.E. Ms. Ulla Tørnæs, UNHCR High Commissioner Fililppo Grandi and UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda Ms. Rosa Malango.

Australia, Ireland, Luxembourg and Sweden were among the donors that announced an increase in contributions from the previous year, while Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, India, Indonesia, Italy, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Russian Federation, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam and the Belgian Government of Flanders pledged their support.

Established by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2005 as a global fund ‘by all, for all,’ the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) marked a breakthrough in humanitarian financing. It is a critical enabler of effective, timely and life-saving humanitarian action, helping front-line partners on the ground to kick-start or reinforce emergency activities. Since its inception, the Fund has assisted hundreds of millions of people with $4.6 billion across 98 countries thanks to the generous and consistent support from its donors.