Pointing to Steep Rise in People Worldwide Needing Humanitarian Aid, Secretary-General Calls for $1 Billion for Central Emergency Response Fund, at High-level Event
Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the Central Emergency Response Fund high-level event, in New York today:
Since the Central Emergency Response Fund was set up 16 years ago, it has proved to be one of the fastest and most effective ways to finance global humanitarian action. The Central Emergency Response Fund enables United Nations agencies and their partners to swiftly launch and scale up our responses to evolving crises and underfunded emergencies.
I saw this for myself many times, in my previous position during 10 years when I was High Commissioner for Refugees. Central Emergency Response Fund is a United Nations success story. The funds are flexible and give our partners in the field the freedom to provide the kind of assistance that is most needed.
And the Central Emergency Response Fund prioritizes those most likely to be marginalized and left behind, including people with disabilities, older people, women and girls. Last year, over half of the people reached by the Central Emergency Response Fund funds were women and girls, and close to 6 per cent were people with disabilities. Central Emergency Response Fund spending on protection reached a record of more than $84 million.
So far this year, the Central Emergency Response Fund has ensured that hundreds of thousands of women in Lebanon, Somalia and other countries received services related to gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive health care. Millions of people with disabilities, from Bangladesh and the Central Africa Republic to Colombia and Ukraine, also received support from Central Emergency Response Fund funding. Every Central Emergency Response Fund allocation includes targeted assistance to children, who suffer more in the dramatic impacts of humanitarian crises.
Despite its record of success, the Central Emergency Response Fund continues to seek ways to improve and become even more effective. It is a centre of innovation in the humanitarian system. For example, the Central Emergency Response Fund has expanded its support for early and anticipatory action. By releasing funds before the full impact of an emergency, Central Emergency Response Fund helps to save lives — and to reduce costs.
Before floods hit Nepal, the Central Emergency Response Fund funding enabled agencies to provide early warning messages, cash grants and essential relief to vulnerable households. And when drought was forecast in parts of Niger, Central Emergency Response Fund helped farmers to protect their livelihoods by providing funds to buy drought-resistant seeds, livestock feed and vaccinations.
Humanitarian needs have risen to record levels in recent years, as outlined in the Global Humanitarian Overview. The need for principled, effective humanitarian funding has never been greater. In crises around the world, Central Emergency Response Fund gives people a lifeline of hope. In 2022, the Fund provided more than $700 million for life-saving assistance to people in 40 countries. These funds were allocated in record speed, responding to the most urgent requests in a matter of hours.
When the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine on 24 February, the Central Emergency Response Fund allocated $20 million that same day. Less than a month later, Central Emergency Response Fund allocated another $40 million to Ukraine to support a further expansion, reaching almost 1 million people. And when Hurricane Ian hit Cuba, the Central Emergency Response Fund announced funding within days to bring health supplies, food, shelter, sanitation supplies and education kits to people whose houses and farms were destroyed. The Fund also stepped up in response to the global food crisis, providing $200 million to fight hunger in 19 countries.
And at a time of tough tests for the humanitarian sector, the Central Emergency Response Fund’s focus on underfunded crises was more important than ever. The Fund allocated $250 million to humanitarian operations in 23 underfunded countries, including Burkina Faso and Mali.
In the past 16 years, 140 Member States, regional local authorities, observers, non-governmental organizations and private donors have donated generously to the Central Emergency Response Fund. But, during those 16 years, the number of people in need has risen tenfold.
This is why we need a $1 billion Central Emergency Response Fund, as the General Assembly has acknowledged. Yet, the resources received have reached nowhere near that level.
We all face difficult economic times. But, the most vulnerable people are hit hardest. Central Emergency Response Fund is the tried and tested way to help them. This year, let’s deliver on a $1 billion Central Emergency Response Fund that is even more effective and successful. And thank you.
Source: UN Secretary-General