1 Nov 2016
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The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is the UN’s global fund that kickstarts humanitarian action anytime, anywhere. On average, each year, CERF grants help humanitarian partners deliver critical healthcare to over 20 million people; food assistance to 10 million people; water and sanitation to 8 million people; livelihood support to 5 million people; protection to 4 million people; and shelter to 1 million people. In addition, every year CERF also provides services for refugees and migrants, nutrition programmes, mine action, emergency education and camp management. Thus, a $25 million funding gap will have a devastating impact on CERF’s ability to support timely and life-saving humanitarian assistance to millions of people affected by crises.

CERF’s Funding Situation

CERF’s annual funding target is currently $450 million and, in 2016, CERF has continued to enjoy strong support from its donors. However, largely due to exchange rate fluctuations, contributions to CERF are estimated to have dropped by $16 million this year. If written pledges and verbal commitments are included, funding to CERF currently stands at $425 million – which translates to a projected shortfall of $25 million for 2016. This year, CERF has disbursed $393 million in 46 countries for life-saving activities around the world in response to high demand from humanitarian partners.

The imminent funding shortfall will have a devastating impact on people in urgent need. The following section illustrates what has been achieved in the past with $25 million of CERF disbursements.

What $25 Million has achieved in the Past

From its Underfunded Emergencies window, CERF allocates one-third of its funds in two rounds each year to forgotten crises. In 2016, the first tranche of $100 million supported aid agencies to provide relief to an estimated 4.5 million people in nine severely underfunded crises where levels of risk and vulnerability are high. For the second allocation round, a total of $50 million was allocated to neglected crises in six countries, allowing aid agencies to assist 2 million people with life-saving assistance and protection. A $25 million funding shortfall may force CERF to eliminate or significantly reduce one of the underfunded emergencies tranches in 2017. Thus, the people in need in the most forgotten, underfunded emergencies, who have already been neglected, could be disproportionately affected by a funding gap, potentially leaving millions of people without life-saving assistance. Supporting urgent humanitarian action in underfunded crises is part of CERF’s niche. It would be difficult to find alternative sources of funding for these crises.

The impact would be equally as harmful in crises that need urgent and reliable support from CERF’s Rapid Response window at the crucial beginning of emergencies or in response to worsening crises.  From this window, CERF disbursed $15 million to assist more than 2 million people with life-saving assistance following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal in April 2015. In 2016, CERF has allocated almost $20 million to support close to half a million South Sudanese refugees in Uganda and Ethiopia. A $25 million funding shortfall could make it impossible for CERF to respond to sudden onset or rapidly deteriorating emergencies in the reminder of 2016 and early 2017, thereby reducing aid agencies’ ability to respond effectively with time critical life-saving assistance to millions of people in need.

The CERF secretariat appeals to all Member States to urgently help close the $25 million funding gap and help CERF continue to save lives in humanitarian emergencies.