South Africa to contribute to UN CERF Pledging Conference

Report
from Government of South Africa
Published on 10 Dec 2007
Pretoria - South Africa will on Thursday 13 December 2007 pledge an amount of R1.8 million to the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in New York as part of the annual CERF Pledging Conference.

The CEFF which became operational in March 2006 was created in response to the increasing number of natural onset disasters and complex humanitarian emergencies that has had a huge impact on the capability of the UN humanitarian response mechanism to act swiftly in order to alleviate human suffering and protect the victims.

South Africa was one of the original sponsors of the creation of the new CERF, as it fully supports the ideals of CERF to promote early action and response to reduce loss of life; to enhance response to time-critical requirements based on demonstrative needs and to strengthen the core elements of humanitarian response in under-funded crises. South Africa's participation in CERF should also be seen in the broader context of UN reform, within the humanitarian arena, to make the UN humanitarian response system more effective, more coordinated and in direct response to the needs of the affected communities.

South Africa has already contributed twice the amounts of R1,8 million to the Fund during the December 2005 and 2006, and is one of the few developing, non traditional donor countries to have contributed.

In further recognition of the humanitarian assistance role played by on the Continent and developing world in general, the former Secretary-General appointed Ambassador SG Nene, Deputy Director-General: Multilateral in the Department of Foreign Affairs, during May 2006, as one of two vice-chairs elect of the CERF Advisory Group. The Advisory Group consists of 12 members whose primary aim is to provide guidance and expert advice to the UN Relief Co-ordinator on the use and impact of the CERF.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced in March 2007 that since its launch in March 2006, the CERF has in total allocated $460 million to over 530 projects in nearly 50 countries. It also highlighted the fact that in contrast to previous efforts, where it took up to four months for funds to reach areas affected by disasters, funds could now be made available through CERF within 72 hours. More recently, and since January 2007, OCHA announced that the CERF has committed US$ 193.8 million to rapid response grants in 45 countries and US$ 124 million to under-funded emergencies in 23 countries, primarily African countries. South Africa is in particular in supportive of providing funds through CERF to the forgotten emergencies, which is influenced by the so-called "CNN effect" where funding tends to dry up after the media start focussing on other issues. CERF in particular then aims to address the existing imbalance in global aid distribution, by also focusing on these neglected or forgotten crises. As of 29 November 2007 54 donors have contributed US$350 million to the CERF this year, with OCHA hoping to reach the goal of US$ 500 million before the end of the financial year.

South Africa already plays a significant role in the UN humanitarian response system through financial contributions to various UN humanitarian agencies that operate on the Continent, for example the FAO/WFP, OCHA and the UNHCR. South Africa has in the past three years provided humanitarian assistance to various countries affected by natural disasters, catastrophes and general humanitarian crisis, including the victims of the 2004 Tsunami, the 2006 Indonesian Earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, the floods in Mozambique and the drought in Southern and East Africa.

Many countries in Africa, which have been hardest hit by natural disasters and humanitarian crisis, will benefit if the Fund succeeds through the support of UN member states, in particular from donor countries. South Africa through it's representation in the CERF Advisory Group will continue to advance the agenda of the forgotten emergencies in Africa and in the developing world in general. South Africa's active engagement with the UN humanitarian system and active role in the provisioning of humanitarian assistance to the victims of natural disasters and complex humanitarian emergencies should be seen in the context of South Africa's foreign policy.

South Africa therefore also appeals to the donor countries to support CERF and make the necessary financial contributions in order for the Fund to succeed for the benefit of humanity and to achieve the goal of US $ 500 million for CERF as envisioned during its creation. South Africa also appeals to donors to provide funding to CERF in addition to funding intended for other development or humanitarian emergencies.