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At a camp in Port-au-Prince, Oxfam and displaced Hatians celebrated Global Handwashing Day 2010 with songs, art work, and soap distributions. Along with the provision of clean water and sanitation services, public health outreach has been a key component of Oxfam's emergency response following the 12 January 2010 earthquake that destroyed great swaths of the city and left many people homeless. Credit: Oxfam America/Coco McCabe

The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) today surpassed US$2 billion in funds disbursed to aid agencies in natural and conflict-related emergencies, a milestone in efforts to speed up the internati

The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) today surpassed US$2 billion in funds disbursed to aid agencies in natural and conflict-related emergencies, a milestone in efforts to speed up the international response to humanitarian crises.

Launched in 2006, CERF is now the sixth largest UN source of revenue for humanitarian appeals, allocating an average of $400 million a year to 82 countries. Since 2005, 122 governments and the private sector have committed more than $2.3bn to the Fund, while 35 Member States have both benefited from and contributed to the CERF.

CERF ensures that life-saving aid is made available within hours of a major emergency and to support humanitarian agencies in countries where there has been inadequate funding.

“From Haiti to the Democratic Republic of Congo to Pakistan, CERF has enabled us to react faster and more comprehensively than ever before,” said Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos. “The generous contributions from Member States make this possible. In 2010 alone, CERF money helped more than 22 million people in 45 countries. There can be no doubt: CERF saves lives.”

In January 2010, for example, CERF allocated $10 million five hours after a massive earthquake struck Haiti - jumpstarting life-saving operations before other funding came online. It added $15 million three days later, and a further $10.5 million in March - making it the largest CERF allocation to one emergency response. This year, more than $10 million in CERF funding was allocated to the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire.

Illustrating its impact on underfunded emergencies, CERF disbursed nearly $5 million to respond to multiple crises in Zimbabwe earlier this year. The allocation was used to start life-saving programmes to tackle acute malnutrition, drought, and cholera, and to ensure continued assistance until additional funding is secured.

More>> CERF website - OCHA Press Release