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What is the Central Emergency Response Fund?

The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is a humanitarian fund established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006 to enable more timely and reliable humanitarian assistance to those affected by natural disasters and armed conflicts. The fund is replenished annually through contributions from governments, the private sector, foundations and individuals and constitutes a pool of reserve funding to support humanitarian action.

The CERF was established to upgrade the Central Emergency Revolving Fund by including a grant element. The CERF has a grant facility of US$450 million and a loan facility of $30 million. The CERF grant component has two windows; one for rapid response and one for underfunded emergencies.

The CERF’s objectives are to:

  • promote early action and response to reduce loss of life;
  • enhance response to time-critical requirements;
  • strengthen core elements of humanitarian response in underfunded crises.

CERF was created by all nations, for all potential victims of disasters. It represents a real chance to provide predictable and equitable funding to those affected by natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies. It is an enormous undertaking which requires the collective support of all sectors.

CERF assures that the funds will go where they are most needed in the network of international aid organizations which include the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), among others.

The Fund is managed, on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General, by the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), Valerie Amos, Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

CERF is intended to complement - not to substitute - existing humanitarian funding mechanisms such as the UN Consolidated Appeals. CERF provides seed funds to jump-start critical operations and fund life-saving programmes not yet covered by other donors.