What is the Central Emergency Response Fund?
Five years ago, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) was established to bring a new dynamic to tackling emergencies. CERF’s creation was an acknowledgement that the humanitarian system had become too slow and cumbersome in releasing funds.
Confronted by a series of crises around the world, donors’ response had often been too limited and selective, sometimes leaving serious funding shortfalls even in situations where needs were extreme and major assistance was required. For example, in 2005 it was clear that millions of people in Darfur were desperate for help, but humanitarian operations were slow to start as agencies waited for adequate funding. In that same year, an emergency appeal for assistance after massive flooding in Guyana attracted minimal financial support, yet at the same time people and governments worldwide donated billions to relief efforts for the Indian Ocean tsunami.
The United Nations General Assembly created CERF as a $500 million standby fund, with some $450 million for grants and another $50 million for loans, that would strive to eliminate such funding discrepancies. The idea was to ensure that all those involved in emergencies received support as quickly as possible, and that there would be no more forgotten crises.
Over the past five years, CERF has played a critical role in supporting early responses to disasters that have caught the world’s attention, notably in Haiti, Pakistan and Myanmar. But just as crucially, CERF has dealt with crises that could easily have been overlooked, helping people as they confronted huge difficulties well away from the international spotlight.
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- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.