UN Emergency Response Fund, a ‘lifeline of hope’ to meet record needs
As humanitarian needs soar to unprecedented levels, top UN officials on Friday highlighted the importance of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in supporting emergencies and responding rapidly to crises.
“CERF is a United Nations success story,” Secretary-General António Guterres said at a major pledging event. “The funds are flexible and give our partners in the field the freedom to provide the kind of assistance that is most needed”.
Prioritizing the marginalized
CERF prioritizes those most likely to be marginalized and left behind, including people with disabilities, older people, women and girls.
I've seen many times how @UNCERF has supported the @UN and partners in delivering life-saving support to people in emergencies. It is quick and effective.
A record 339 million people will need emergency aid next year. Investing in CERF now is more critical than ever. https://t.co/LNCltFZ9BiUNReliefChief
Last year, over half of the beneficiaries were women and girls, and close to six per cent were people with disabilities. CERF spending on protection reached a record of more than $84 million.
This year, it has ensured that hundreds of thousands of women in Lebanon, Somalia and other countries, receive services related to gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive healthcare.
“In crises around the world, CERF gives people a lifeline of hope”, argued the UN chief.
Assistance to date
So far this year, CERF has allocated more than $700 million to support millions of in need of urgent assistance throughout some 40 countries.
This included kick-starting operations in Ukraine on 24 February, the date of Russia’s invasion, as well as rapidly responding to weather-related emergencies, such as in Cuba, which was pummelled by Hurricane Ian, and to support recovery in Pakistan following the devasting floods and landslides there.
In 2022, CERF also provided $200 million to address worsening food insecurity in the most-affected countries, as well as $250 million towards critically underfunded humanitarian operations in 23 countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East.
‘Tried and tested’
According to the recently released Global Humanitarian Overview, 339 million people will need emergency assistance next year – 65 million more people than this year – a 25 per cent increase and the highest number ever recorded.
“We all face difficult economic times”, said the top UN official. “But the most vulnerable people are hit hardest. CERF is the tried and tested way to help them.”
For 2023, 39 donors announced $409 million in CERF contributions, falling just short of the $467.7 million pledged at last year’s event.
However, additional funding is anticipated as several donors announced that pledges are forthcoming.
‘Year of solidarity’
CERF’s Member State-agreed annual funding target of $1 billion has never been achieved.
Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths thanked donors for their generosity, noting that the high level of humanitarian needs outstrip the resources available.
“Next year must be the year of solidarity,” he stressed at the closing of the day’s pledging event.