Sometimes when a manmade or natural disaster strikes donors have good reason to empty their pockets. Maybe the crisis hits close to home; or maybe there are pressing political reasons to want to contain the humanitarian fallout of conflict? Sometimes, though, the national interests of major donors are very, very far removed from a crisis. It can be hard for those crises to compete with more “relevant” disasters for precious humanitarian dollars so they can go neglected.
But now there’s a UN program for that.
The UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is a relatively new program that seeks to direct funders to underserved emergencies. It is basically a standing pool of donor dollars that can be allocated to generally neglected disasters.
Today, the UN announced that CERF would allocated an additional $72 million for 12 under-funded emergencies, bringing the total amount provided through the underfunded emergencies window of the CERF to an unprecedented $172 million in a single year.
These allocations will support vital humanitarian aid in Bangladesh (US$ 2 million), Chad ($8 million), Colombia ($3.5 million), the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ($6 million), Haiti ($1.5 million), Madagascar ($3 million), Mauritania ($4 million), Myanmar ($3 million), Niger ($8 million), Pakistan ($10 million), the Philippines ($3 million) and Somalia ($20 million).
“Millions of people around the world are in dire need but we don’t always see or hear of their plight,” said Valerie Amos. “This money will save lives by ensuring that humanitarian organizations can continue to support the most vulnerable men, women and children caught in the midst of devastating disasters and conflicts.”
CERF is mostly funded through voluntary contributions of member states, but individuals can also lend a hand. For 2013, donors have so far pledged more than $420 million in support of the Fund, bringing the total amount contributed to CERF since its inception in 2006 to more than $3.2 billion.
Human lives should be considered equal, but for various reasons humanitarian emergencies are not equally funded. CERF is one of those UN functions that no one really knows about outside humanitarian circles but it is a critical node in the global response to humanitarian emergencies.