11 May 2006

Emergency Relief Coordinator Allocates $32 Million from Global Response Fund

NEW YORK, 10 May (OCHA) -- Jan Egeland, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, today announced that $32 million will be made available from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for the 10 most underfunded emergencies in the world.

"I have often compared the world's system for funding humanitarian activities as a lottery that only one or two countries will win in a given year," said Mr. Egeland, in announcing his decision.  "The CERF was set up to redress the inequities we have traditionally faced in funding priority projects in much needed, but often overlooked, areas," he added.

Mr. Egeland urged the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinators in the concerned countries to identify priority programmes, which their respective country teams have been unable to implement in the past due to chronically low funding.

One-third of the funds vested in the CERF are earmarked for underfunded emergencies.  The 12 countries to benefit from this first disbursement for the most underfunded are:  Burundi ($2 million); Central African Republic ($1 million); Chad ($4 million); Côte d'Ivoire ($1 million); Democratic Republic of the Congo ($17 million); Guinea ($1 million); Haiti ($1 million); Republic of Congo ($1 million); Zimbabwe ($1 million); and Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia (which will jointly receive $3 million).

The CERF, which was approved by the General Assembly in December 2005 and officially launched on 8 March 2006, will save lives by providing quick initial funding for life-saving assistance and rapid response in sudden onset, rapidly deteriorating and underfunded emergencies.  It will be used to help redress the existing imbalance in global aid distribution, as a result of which millions of people in so-called neglected or forgotten crises remain in need, while others benefit from better funded programmes. 

Towards the target of $450 million for the grant facility, the United Nations has received $254 million from 40 countries and 2 private sector donors to date.  Because the CERF is entirely dependent on voluntary contributions, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) urges more Governments, members of the private sector and individuals to donate to the CERF.  States are also encouraged to establish a budget line for annual contributions to ensure the Fund's replenishment.

The CERF is managed by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator on behalf of the Secretary-General.

For additional information on these emergencies and the CERF, please visit OCHA Online ( http://ochaonline.un.org ), the CERF website ( http://ochaonline2.un.org/cerf ) and ReliefWeb ( www.reliefweb.int ).

For further information, please call:  Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 917 892 1679; Kristen Knutson, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 9262; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile, +41 79 473 4570.  OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org and www.reliefweb.int .

* *** *