Every dollar going to humanitarian aid must have maximum effect, Secretary-General stresses at High-level Conference on Central Emergency Response Fund


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the High-level Conference on the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in New York on 16 December:

Five years ago, the United Nations General Assembly launched a new kind of fund: a fund to ensure that when crisis struck, aid workers could start saving lives without delay; a fund that would reach everyone, even in emergencies that have been ignored or forgotten by much of the world; a fund that is fast, fair and efficient.

Today, we can see that the Central Emergency Response Fund has exceeded expectations. It has disbursed more than $2 billion in assistance, making it one of the largest sources of humanitarian funding in the world.

Two out of three members of the United Nations General Assembly have contributed to it — showing how widely it has become accepted. A recent independent external five-year evaluation gave the Fund top marks on speed and efficiency. And it said CERF has been a catalyst for reform, ensuring better planning and better coordination.

We can now say that CERF has come of age and represents the best in the United Nations. It is flexible and responsive to the needs of people. It provides a service, with low costs, that would otherwise not exist. And it has a clear, measurable impact.

Let me give you an example. This year, we saw severe flooding across many countries in Central America. But, the crisis did not get the attention it deserved. Funding was slow. CERF, however, was able to rush into action.

When Carla, a 19-year-old woman from El Salvador, felt a heavy pain in her abdomen, a mobile clinic funded by CERF was there to help her. The pain was the beginning of labour. Imagine if that clinic had not been there due to a lack of funding.

All over the world, CERF projects have saved lives and built resilience to deal with future crises. In Kenya, thousands of children are being vaccinated against measles, including in the Dadaab refugee camp, home to people who have fled famine and fighting in Somalia. I met some of these children just last week when I visited Kenya and Somalia. In Pakistan, I have seen how CERF has provided water, food and shelter to thousands of families after the floods. In these and many other places, CERF has saved thousands of lives.

These are financially difficult times for many, not only in developing countries, but in developed parts of the world, as well. It is essential that every dollar spent on humanitarian aid is spent to maximum effect. That is why we are here today — because money given to CERF is money well spent. It is guaranteed to go to the people who need it most, in time to make a difference.

CERF is a United Nations success story. I thank you for the generous support that has made CERF possible, and I urge you to continue to contribute the much-needed funds that are, literally, life or death for hundreds of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable people.

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