Over US$400 million pledged for rapid response to disasters

NEW YORK, United States, Tuesday December 17, 2013, CMC – The United Nations says donors have pledged US$404.6 million to a fund for rapid response to natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes in the Caribbean and elsewhere.

On Friday, the UN announced that the fund also “enables the quick delivery of life-saving humanitarian aid to those who need it most around the world.”

It said the latest pledge is in response to an appeal by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the world body’s top relief official.

“The most vulnerable people on Earth depend on your support to enable this work to continue,” said Ban in his opening remarks at the high-level conference for the Fund, known officially as the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

“That is why I ask that you give as much as possible to this important fund,” he added. “These are uncertain economic times for many, but I urge you to give generously and to give early, so CERF can help as many people as possible in 2014.”

The Fund, established by the General Assembly seven years ago, has grown to become one of the largest and most reliable sources of humanitarian funding, the UN said.

Since 2006, the CERF has disbursed more than US$3.2 billion to emergencies in 88 countries.

“It has proved itself as one of the most effective and efficient ways to support urgent aid needs,” said Ban, stating that CERF has also been fulfilling its mandate by providing critical funding for less visible emergencies.

“In Haiti, Sudan and Somalia, in the Central African Republic, Myanmar and Yemen, wherever people are suffering, CERF offers a lifeline,” he added.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which administers the Fund, more than US$473 million has been released this year from CERF to enable fast delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to millions of people affected by natural disasters and other crises in 45 countries.

“The Central Emergency Response Fund is a fund by all countries, for all countries,” said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Guyanese-born Valerie Amos.

“It is helping us to ensure that those who need our assistance receive it – quickly, effectively and efficiently,” she said. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)