Providing rapid humanitarian assistance: Germany is supporting the UN Central Emergency Response Fund CERF)

14.12.2016 - Article

A high-level pledging conference for CERF took place in New York on 13 December. As the fourth-largest donor, Germany was one of the countries to encourage others to contribute.

A high-level pledging conference for the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) took place in New York on 13 December. The Federal Foreign Office is supporting the work of CERF both politically and financially and Germany is currently the fourth-largest donor. The Central Emergency Response Fund facilitates rapid reaction to acute humanitarian crises meaning rapid humanitarian assistance can be provided in an emergency situation.

CERF is fast
Crises don’t wait. Neither does CERF. When Hurricane Matthew left a path of destruction in Haiti in October 2016, in less than 24 hours, CERF announced immediate funding to kick-start assistance.© UN CERF

Reacting immediately to humanitarian crises and providing aid organisations with the necessary resources: that has been the task of the UN body CERF (Central Emergency Response Fund) since 2005. For example following natural disasters, CERF makes financing available as quickly as possible so that life-saving aid can be provided on the ground. It is the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations (UN OCHA) that is tasked with monitoring CERF.

The idea is that UN member states pay into a fund in advance and thus enable the aid organisations to intervene quickly in crisis situations without needing to waste time acquiring resources. In 2016, CERF was involved in providing humanitarian aid in 40 countries to the tune of 425 million US dollars to date. Alongside its involvement in the case of sudden crises, CERF also helps the “forgotten” and usually under-financed crises which have been smouldering for longer in Africa, southern Asia, the Middle East or the Caribbean.

We are all survivors” – Binta, young mother of 6 children
Binta has fled conflict in northeast Nigeria and now lives in Dar es Salaam refugee camp in Chad. Her twin babies were born safely in the camp just weeks after she arrived. In 2016, CERF funds helped UNICEF and partners to provide urgent health care and other services to people in need.© UN CERF

Speed that saves live

Even before the first World Humanitarian Summit held in Istanbul in May 2016, Foreign Minister Steinmeier had responded to the appeal made by the UN Secretary-General to double CERF’s annual budget to a billion US dollars by 2018. After all, CERF has plenty of examples of how quickly it can respond, most recently to alleviate the devastating impact of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. Within 24 hours, CERF was able to free up the first financing to provide aid. CERF was also one of the first institutions with financing available to tackle the Ebola crisis in 2014 or following the earthquake in Nepal in 2015. Thanks to its rapid response capability, CERF has provided life-saving aid for many millions of people since it was set up in 2005. Every year, an average of 20 million people are provided with health care, a further ten million receive food and eight million water.

CERF is global
Since its establishment in 2006, CERF has provided more than $ 4.6 billion worth of life-saving assistance thanks to contributions from 126 member states and others.© UN CERF

Germany fourth-largest donor

In 2016 alone, the Federal Foreign Office made available 50 million euros for CERF. Although CERF has a broad basis of 126 member states as well as private donors, recent figures indicate that the ten largest donors actually contribute 87% of its funding. At the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Foreign Minister Steinmeier appealed to the international community: “New contributors, greater contributions and innovative financing solutions are required if we want CERF to remain in a position to act in the face of our world’s humanitarian need today.” At the high-level pledging conference held in New York on 13 December, Germany worked hard to ensure that CERF is strengthened further to ensure it reaches its budgetary target of 1 billion US dollars by 2018.

Find out more:

Article by Fank Walter Steinmeier on CERF (22. May 2016)

Related content


Top of page