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CERF: 3 things you need to know


A young woman waits at a food distribution in Afgoye, Somalia. Credit: UN Photo/Tobin Jones
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CERF will hold its annual pledging conference on 17 December in New York with the aim of raising US$450 million in support of humanitarian operations for in 2015.

As the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance worldwide grows, humanitarian agencies will again rely on resources from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to respond to crises in 2015.

CERF will hold its annual pledging conference on 17 December in New York. The aim is to raise US$450 million to fund humanitarian operations in 2015.

“CERF funding is crucial to [humanitarian] efforts,” said United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon at last year’s conference. “It has proved itself as one of the most effective and efficient ways to support urgent aid needs.”

Here are three things you need to know about CERF:

1. A fund by all countries, for all countries. Since its inception in 2006, CERF has allocated over $3.6 billion to support lifesaving relief efforts in 88 countries. In 2014, the majority of funding went to critical efforts in South Sudan, Sudan, the Central African Republic and Ethiopia.

CERF receives contributions from donors—governments, companies, foundations, charities and individuals—into a single fund with an annual target of $450 million. This money is set aside for immediate use by UN agencies and the International Organization for Migration at the onset of emergencies, both in rapidly deteriorating situations, and in protracted crises that fail to attract sufficient resources.

“The Central Emergency Response Fund is a fund by all countries, for all countries,” said UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos at the event last year. “It is helping us to ensure that those who need our assistance receive it – quickly, effectively and efficiently.”

2. Rapid, effective and efficient humanitarian action. CERF makes money available when it is needed most: at the beginning of a crisis, when time is of the essence and it is critical that emergency relief operations get under way quickly.

This year alone, over $280 million – approximately one-third of all allocations – went towards funding rapid response projects, including efforts to provide emergency shelter to communities displaced by conflict in north-eastern Pakistan and to meet the urgent needs of families affected by floods in Bolivia, Burundi, the Solomon Islands and Zimbabwe.

In April 2014, CERF funding helped kick-start the emergency response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. CERF support included funding for the UN Humanitarian Air Service which ensured that healthcare personnel and life-saving supplies got to remote locations in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

3. Shining a spotlight on forgotten emergencies. A third of CERF’s funding is earmarked for emergencies that require support urgently but have fallen out of the international spotlight. In 2014, $170 million in allocations have helped to boost humanitarian response for 22 of the world’s most neglected crises - from Chad to Yemen to Haiti.

The largest amount for an underfunded emergency, $20 million, went to Somalia where more than 3 million people need humanitarian assistance because of drought, floods, continued conflict and soaring food prices. “These injections are vital,” said Philippe Lazzarini, Humanitarian Coordinator in Somalia. “The CERF allocation will ensure that humanitarian organizations continue their work,” he added.

The CERF High-level Conference will be held in New York on 17 December. It will present an opportunity for governments, foundations and the private sector to pledge their commitments to the Fund in 2015.

Watch the pledging conference live from 10.00AM on 17 December (New York time)

Keep tabs on pledges on Twitter #UNCERF2015