UN emergency fund gets more funding pledges

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 14 (PNA/Xinhua) — The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) announced Friday it had got funding pledges totaling US$ 404.6 million this year, up US$ 21.2 million, from that of last year.

The commitments, made during the CERF’s annual high-level conference which opened here Friday, will allow the UN agency to continue helping aid agencies jump-start emergency responses during natural disasters and armed conflict in 2014, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in a press release.

“CERF has grown to become one of the largest and most reliable sources of humanitarian funding,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his opening remarks. “This year alone, CERF funds have kick-started urgent humanitarian operations in Syria, Mali and the Philippines.”

Since its launch in 2006, the CERF has enabled more timely and reliable humanitarian assistance to those affected by crises. In this year alone, it allocated more than US$ 473 million dollars in total, helping humanitarian organizations to provide aid to 45 countries and territories including Bangladesh, Guinea, Haiti, Marshall Islands, Myanmar, Pakistan, Somalia and South Sudan.

Last month, two days after the devastating Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, Valerie Amos, channeled US$ 25 million into aid efforts.

While addressing the CERF conference from Lebanon, which is home to more than 840,000 Syrian refugees, Amos underlined the CERF’s critical support for people in Syria and neighboring countries. A total of US$ 82 million were given for the Syria crisis, making it the largest allocation of the CERF funding this year.

“CERF really does make a difference to people when they most need help. I have seen it for myself here in Lebanon, and in many countries round the world,” Amos said, urging donors “to continue to give generously to support CERF in 2014.”

Also on Friday, Amos announced a further US$ 10-million commitment in support of aid action in the Central African Republic, where violence and intimidation have become a staple of everyday life.

“People are facing fear, insecurity and lack of stability. Women and children are particularly vulnerable. I hope these additional funds will bring some much needed relief,” she said. The CERF has already allocated more than US$ 7 million to the country this year.

A total of 124 member states and observers, as well as regional authorities, foundations, private and individual donors have contributed more than US$ 3.2 billion to the fund since 2006.(PNA/Xinhua)