Fast and flexible assistance: Germany pays a further 30 million euro into UN emergency fund

a landscape with camels and a swarm of locusts flying overhead

Locust infestation in the Horn of Africa, © Petterik Wiggers/Panos Pictures

08.12.2021 - Article

For 15 years, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has provided fast and flexible assistance to alleviate humanitarian crises. Germany is once again the fund’s leading donor in 2021.

What exactly is the CERF?

From gender-based violence triggered by the COVID‑19 pandemic to floods in Bangladesh and droughts in Somalia, the Central Emergency Response Fund allows the United Nations to react flexibly and swiftly to acute humanitarian crises.

Germany will pay at least 180 million euro into the fund for the years 2020‑22. This makes Germany the leading donor once again in 2021. As of this year, it is pledging its financial support for several years in advance so as to give the United Nations a more solid basis on which to plan its relief efforts.

Swift reaction to gender-based violence triggered by COVID‑19

The United Nations has already shown just how flexibly it is able to react to crises thanks to the CERF, including in the spring of 2020, when the fund released a total of 39 million US dollars to combat the steep rise in gender-based violence around the world due to the COVID‑19 pandemic. Numerous projects quickly emerged to offer protection from gender-based violence, including medical care, psychosocial support, safe spaces and legal advice.

Ethiopia: The fight against hunger

Ethiopia has been mired in a severe conflict since November 2020. In addition to armed clashes, many people in different areas of the country are now increasingly suffering from hunger. One effect of the fighting and blockades has been to prevent the planting of crops. The CERF has provided 66 million US dollars for Ethiopia since the beginning of the conflict. Part of this sum is being used to fund shelter and food security for people who have fled the fighting.

Some of the money is also being used for animal feed to maintain herds of cattle and, in regions where the fighting is less severe, for drought-resistant seed to improve farmers’ ability to feed themselves in the face of the droughts also affecting Ethiopia.

Efficiency and innovation: Anticipatory humanitarian assistance

Since its creation in 2006, the CERF has made available a total of 7.7 billion US dollars to finance emergency assistance in hundreds of crisis situations. It has become a crucial pillar of humanitarian assistance.

However, it is more than just an aid instrument – it is also a driver of innovation. Starting this year, following a proposal by the German Government, the fund can additionally be used to finance anticipatory humanitarian assistance as a preventive measure to avert catastrophes. This use of the CERF has already proven effective in 2021, for example in limiting the damage caused by the floods in Bangladesh and preventing a further escalation of the hunger crisis in Somalia.

Objective: One billion US dollars per year for the CERF

In 2016, the member states of the United Nations set themselves the goal of raising one billion US dollars for the CERF each year. Germany is a major contributor, providing 13% of this amount. The German Government also encourages other donor countries to make generous contributions to the CERF so that it can fully accomplish its mission to be a relief fund by all, for all.


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