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UN: Central Emergency Response Fund

Volume 715: debated on Wednesday 9 December 2009


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Douglas Alexander) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The UK has provided £40 million per annum for the past four years to support the United Nations (UN) Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). The CERF provides UN humanitarian agencies with early funding so that they can respond immediately when a crisis strikes. The fund is also able to channel funds to neglected emergencies.

To date, over US$1.5 billion has been contributed to the CERF by 109 UN member states and 19 private donors, of which the UK is the largest single contributor. During this time, the CERF has committed $1.4 billion to emergency programmes in 71 countries. CERF has been an important part of the humanitarian response in nearly every major crisis in 2009. CERF was the top source of funding for five of the six UN emergency appeals launched in 2009; namely, Lao Peoples Democratic Republic, Madagascar, Namibia, Burkina Faso, and the Philippines. The top recipients of CERF funds to date have been: DRC ($162 million), Sudan ($102 million), Kenya ($79.4 million) Somalia ($71.3 million), Ethiopia ($69.5 million), Afghanistan ($60.1 million), Sri Lanka ($56.8 million) and Zimbabwe ($52.2 million).

CERF has performed well over its first four years of operation. An independent evaluation of the fund in 2008 found that the CERF “has proven itself as a valuable and impartial tool, becoming in a short time-frame, an essential feature of international humanitarian action and complementing other humanitarian financing mechanisms”.  The evaluation report concluded that CERF has helped to accelerate humanitarian response and increase the coverage of needs.

The UK is represented on the CERF Advisory Group, which provides the UN’s emergency relief co-ordinator with advice on the speed and appropriateness of fund allocations, and examines performance and accountability. We share the view that the CERF has made good progress.

In the light of the CERF’s solid performance to date, and as part of our ongoing efforts to improve the quality of the UK’s response to humanitarian crises, I am pleased to inform the House that I have approved a further commitment to the CERF of £120 million over the next three years (January 2010 to December 2012). We will monitor the performance of the CERF closely to ensure this investment is used to the best effect. I hope that this long-term commitment will encourage other donors to do likewise, thereby strengthening the financial sustainability of the CERF. We will continue to actively lobby key donors to this end.