Press Release

Secretary-General urges Donors to Continue Stepping Forward

08 December 2023

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the high-level pledging event for the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), in New York on 6 December:

It is always a pleasure to address this high-level pledging event for the Central Emergency Response Fund.

CERF is a United Nations success story.  When I was High Commissioner for Refugees, we benefitted from CERF many times.

Quick analysis, quick decision, quick implementation.  That is the memory I have about CERF support.

I can absolutely recommend CERF as a vital, effective and strategic funding tool for humanitarian emergencies.

Donors can be confident that their funds are going where they are most needed -- because CERF prioritizes people who are likely to be marginalized and left behind:  women and girls, people with disabilities, older people.

Year after year, CERF demonstrates its unique and irreplaceable role by getting funding quickly to people in crisis and this year was no different.

In April, when conflict erupted in Sudan, CERF made funding available to help millions of people caught up in the brutal fighting and forced from their homes, both inside Sudan and across borders.

In October, CERF quickly channelled funds to our United Nations humanitarian agencies in Gaza as they struggled to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of people impacted by the conflict.

Beyond the immediate crises, CERF funding is also helping to counter long-term trends, from resurgent food insecurity to the humanitarian impact of the climate crisis.

In 2023, CERF funding helped to prevent sharp spikes in food insecurity in 28 countries, reducing the risk of famine in several of them.

Since its inception in 2006, around one quarter of CERF allocations have gone towards responding to climate-related disasters.  This year, the proportion increased to one third -- but we must still be able to do more.

With this in mind, my Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, has just announced a CERF climate action account at the twenty-eighth UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai.  This will enable donors to channel additional financing directly to address the risks and impacts of climate-related disasters.

And in 2023, CERF once again supported people in forgotten crises that go under the radar, from Haiti to Burkina Faso and Yemen.

More than $270 million was released to bridge funding gaps and bolster humanitarian operations across 26 countries with underfunded emergencies -- the highest amount ever.

In many cases, these funds helped to empower people in crisis by restoring their control over their lives.

Some resources went directly to local and national organizations working with communities to meet their priority needs.

Other funding went to cash assistance and vouchers so that people affected by crisis can make their own choices.

And some of these funds supported the participation of people affected by crisis in humanitarian decision-making. This is proven to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian aid.

And finally, significant CERF funding supported what we call anticipatory [environmental] action.  These projects provide critical assistance, like drought-resistant seeds or improved water sources, before emergencies strike.

By November 2023, CERF funding had been used for anticipatory action projects in 19 countries and this funding will become even more important as the impacts of climate change deepen.

None of this would have been possible without the generous financial support of donors.  You enabled $632 million to be disbursed to humanitarian operations across 40 countries, exactly when and where it was needed.

We are grateful to all our contributors, and particularly to our top 10 donors.  They contributed more than 80 per cent of CERF funds in 2023.  But if CERF is to continue to have a transformative impact, 10 countries is not enough.

We need more donors to step up and expand the donor base.

We need financial commitments that match the scale of needs.

We need to meet the $1 billion funding target agreed seven years ago.

I therefore extend my whole-hearted thanks to everyone who has pledged funds to CERF today --

particularly new donors, and those who have increased their contributions.

I urge donors to continue stepping forward for this vital fund.

CERF provides support and hope when people need it most.

CERF helps to put people in charge of their own recovery from crisis.

CERF makes a difference.  And I have personally seen that difference.


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