Thirty-six donors pledged $383 million to the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) – a pool of funding that supports critical relief operations in crises around the world – at a pledging conference for 2018 held in New York on Friday.
The initial pledges came in the backdrop of swelling humanitarian needs, which have increased from $5.2 billion in 2005 to over $24 billion today.
“There is no sign of a let-up in humanitarian needs,” United Nations Secretary-GeneralAntónio Guterres said in his opening remarks, noting that this is why the General Assembly adopted a resolution a year ago that calls for an expansion of CERF’s annual funding target from $450 million to $1 billion.
“$1 billion is an ambitious but achievable goal,” he said. “A strong United Nations needs a strong CERF.”
Protracted conflict and the impact of natural disasters, compounded by structural fragility and chronic vulnerability, mean that more people than ever before survive on the brink of disaster, he said, warning that in 2018, protracted crises are likely to continue, while the impact of climate change is likely to grow and intensify.
Noting that the global humanitarian funding gap stands at $11 billion as of 30 November and humanitarian response plans are funded at an average of just 60 per cent, the Secretary-General stressed that a $1 billion CERF will help to bolster contingency financing.
CERF, created in 2005 and managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), reached a record high income of $504 million for 2017 through additional commitments made by donors.
This year, CERF has funded life-saving work, allocating nearly $130 million to help prevent famine in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
The fund also supported relief responses in other places, including for Palestine refugees in Gaza, for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, and those affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean.
Mr. Guterres announced a CERF allocation of $100 million to meet critical needs in nine underfunded emergencies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, Cameroon, Mali, Philippines, Eritrea, Haiti and Pakistan.
Following the Secretary-General’s remarks, a panel discussed the role of CERF in improving the humanitarian community’s ability to assist people affected by conflict and crises.
“CERF is unmatched in its speed, global reach and scale of impact in enabling the humanitarian community to respond to people most in need in crises,” said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock.