Western Union CEO calls on other companies to pre-fund global disaster response through CERF

News and Press Release
Originally published


New Corporate Donations Matched Dollar-for-Dollar, for a Total Goal of $500,000

(New York, 10 May 2011): The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today called on the global corporate community to raise $500,000 in honor of the fifth anniversary of the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). Western Union CEO Hikmet Ersek is encouraging his company’s peers to join Western Union in pre-funding international humanitarian disaster response work through CERF, ensuring that those affected by tragedy receive immediate assistance.

In 2011, the Western Union Foundation will match all new corporate donations to CERF dollar-for-dollar up to $250,000 to meet or exceed the fundraising goal of $500,000. In 2007, Western Union, through the Western Union Foundation, became the first corporate donor to CERF.

“We naturally are concerned when crisis impacts the communities we serve. With 445,000 Agent locations in 200 countries and territories, we want to ensure that a broad range of humanitarian needs are met, whether or not the disaster captures the spotlight,” said Ersek. “CERF can be there to provide relief during so-called silent emergencies, and to ensure a coordinated response to major disasters. Aid agencies should not have to pass the hat when lives hang in the balance. We encourage corporations across the globe to join us in making a difference by having funding at the ready, before crisis strikes.” CERF is a trust fund created by the United Nations General Assembly and managed by OCHA. It relies on voluntary contributions by UN Member States, individuals and the private sector. CERF grants fall into two general categories: rapid response to emergencies and support for existing, but often overlooked or underfunded emergencies. CERF money is used quickly to support the immediate provision of food, shelter, medical care and other critical services.

In 2010, CERF allocated more than $276 million for a quick response in 37 countries and more than $139 million for underfunded emergencies in 17 countries like Yemen, Chad and Eritrea, where chronic humanitarian needs persist. Since its launch in March 2006, CERF has committed more than $1.8 billion for 1,700 projects in 78 countries and territories, spanning Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

“CERF is invaluable. It is the first port of call when immediate injections of cash are needed to kick-start the response during new crises,” said Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. “It is important that first responders have the resources they need to provide life-saving assistance when and where it is needed most. The matching grant challenge by Western Union will go a long way to raise awareness for our efforts, and the donations will help ensure that a pool of funds is available for relief work within hours after a disaster strikes, anywhere around the globe.”

To learn more about CERF or to make a corporate pledge, please visit


About Western Union

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions-branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. The Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta-branded services are offered through a combined network of 445,000 Agent locations in 200 countries and territories. In 2010, The Western Union Company completed 214 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $76 billion of principal between consumers, and 405 million business payments. For more information, visit

About the Western Union Foundation

Through Western Union's Our World, Our Family® signature program, the Western Union Foundation supports initiatives to empower people through access to economic opportunity. Recognized by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy in 2009, the program is a five-year, $50 million commitment reflecting efforts made by Western Union employees, agents and partners around the world. Since its inception, the Western Union Foundation has awarded more than $71.7 million in grants to more than 2010 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in 104 countries and territories. To learn more, visit

About CERF

CERF was established by the United Nations General Assembly five years ago to make funding for humanitarian emergencies faster and more equitable. Since then, some 120 Members States have pledged more than $2.3 billion to the Fund, which is managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Private sector contributions are becoming increasingly important to CERF. The $4.4 million received in contributions from corporations in 2010 was nearly 10 times the amount donated by the private sector in 2009. Please visit

About OCHA

OCHA is the part of the United Nations Secretariat responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. OCHA also ensures there is a framework within which each actor can contribute to the overall response effort. OCHA's mission is to mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors in order to alleviate human suffering in disasters and emergencies; to advocate the rights of people in need; to promote preparedness and prevention; and to facilitate sustainable solutions. For more information, go to

Contact: Anna Alejo

The Western Union Company

+1 720 332 3884

Stephanie Bunker

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

+1 917 367 5126

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit