United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund’s (CERF) support for UNICEF’s life-saving operations surpassed US$1 billion in October 2015. UNICEF is the second largest recipient of CERF funding delivering urgent life-saving assistance and protection for millions of children and their communities. Since 2006, CERF has supported UNICEF’s humanitarian operations in 88 countries, including the impact of recurrent violence in the Central African Republic.
“All the children were crying and the grandmothers were praying when the militia came that night,” recalls ten-year old refugee Assia, describing the last night she spent in her home in the town of Carnot, north-west of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), when the sound of gunfire woke the whole village around midnight. “The men and older children helped us to get away, but we didn’t have time to get anything. We left everything behind.”
“We heard the gunshots and saw the lights of the firearms in the night,” says Anassa Abdoulaye, Assia’s grandmother. “We packed into cars and left in a hurry for the border with Chad.”
Recurring violence in the Central African Republic has forced around 150,000 people to take refuge in Chad. Assia and her grandmother were among the first families to settle in Danamadja, the site of a transit centre for refugees and returnees from CAR in southern Chad.
CERF rapid response funds helped to raise warning signs amongst the international community for this underfunded and neglected emergency. Children like Assia from CAR would not have received immediate assistance without CERF’s quick release of funds to UNICEF. Funds were used to support health care, nutrition, child protection as well as water and sanitation programs for CAR returnees in southern Chad.
Chad remains one of the most difficult places on earth to be child. The country faces numerous humanitarian challenges including refugee and returnee flows from neighboring CAR, Sudan and Nigeria. Assistance for children with severe malnutrition, as well as improved access to water, sanitation, child protection and education remain a critical concern. Without CERF, UNICEF would struggle to kick-start its emergency work. Together with the government, UNICEF has installed thousands of water points and latrines in the sites, conducted more than 10,000 medical consultations, and vaccinated hundreds of thousands of children. The nutritional status of children in the sites has also led UNICEF to scale-up screening activities and treatment of malnutrition.
Assia speaks fondly of her life in Carnot - her friends, her school, the house she grew up in. “What I miss most, though, is my sister. She didn’t come with us,” she says. “If the fighting stops, I would go back to visit, but I would not stay there, because I am afraid that it would start again.”
“The story of Assia is the story of more than 30 million children who are forced to flee and are displaced due to conflict and persecution”, says Ms. Yoka Brandt, Deputy Executive Director for UNICEF. “Our partnership with CERF is critical to kick-start immediate life-saving assistance – whether in health, nutrition, protection or water and sanitation - while also providing a lifeline for those crises where funding is low but needs of children and their families are urgent”.
“UNICEF is, one of CERF’s key partners”, said Kyung-wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator. “UNICEF is among the frontline agencies. With their expertise and global presence, it ensures that CERF can support quickly life-saving and protection action around the world effectively and efficiently with the biggest possible impact for children and their families.”
Of $1 billion allocated to UNICEF from CERF since 2006, some $403 million was allocated for nutrition and health interventions; $380 million for water, sanitation and hygiene activities; $107 million combined for education and protection activities; $67 million for refugee response; and some 43 million for other servicers such as shelter, coordination support, food assistance and camp management.
CERF pools donor contribution in a single fund so that money is available to start or continue urgent relief work anywhere in the world. Since its inception in 2006, 125 UN Member States and dozens of private-sector donors and regional Governments have contributed to the Fund. CERF has allocated more than $4 billion in support of humanitarian operations in 95 countries and territories.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.