United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appealed to countries and other international donors to continuing funding the world body’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) next year so it reaches its goal of $500 million to provide rapid assistance to those most in need.
At the same time the UN’s aid chief, who also attended the high-level meeting on the Fund addressed by Mr. Annan, told reporters that 50 donors out of the 100 or so delegations present had pledged almost $350 million for CERF in 2007, bringing its total funding for next year to around $400 million.
In his speech at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Annan praised the achievements of the Fund, which was launched in March, noting it has already committed $230 million to more than 320 projects in 30 countries, “from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, Lebanon to Liberia.”
“Clearly, CERF has shown that it will provide assistance anywhere, and save lives everywhere. It saves lives because it is innovative, and it is flexible. But above all, it succeeds because of strong support from you, its donors,” Mr. Annan told the conference, which included ministers and representatives from at least 90 Member States.
He said the Fund enabled the UN to “do more, and to do it sooner. And by alleviating suffering before situations spin out of control, it facilitates faster transitions to recovery and rebuilding.”
Highlighting recommendations from a recent UN panel that credited the CERF with “facilitating quicker, more effective [humanitarian] responses,” he called for it to be fully funded as soon as possible.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland, who directs the Fund, stressed CERF’s importance as a rapid response mechanism to deal with emergencies, adding it also showed how the UN was reforming itself in terms of improved efficiency with aid.
“I can bring some good news with me… donors from north and south alike… altogether 50 donors pledged a total of an astounding $345 million [for 2007]. We now have, with the $50 million in loans, $395 million, nearly $400 million in the Central Emergency Response Fund,” he told reporters after the conference.
“I think this is an example that the United Nations can reform, is willing to reform, but also has to reform. We’ve gone from having the total lottery of whether there’d be money or not for life-saving activity to a well-funded vehicle that can provide immediate funding.”
Opening the conference, the General Assembly’s Acting President Mirjana Mladineo, speaking on behalf of President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, said that the support of both developing and developed nations to the Fund “sent out a strong political signal, underlining the importance of multilateralism, by coming together to assist vulnerable victims of humanitarian crises independent of political and strategic considerations.”
According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 54 countries, local governments and private sector groups contributed $300 million to the Fund for 2006.