New York, 17 December 2014 - Secretary-General's remarks at CERF High-Level Conference
Welcome and thank you for being here today.
Humanitarian assistance is one of the most important functions of the United Nations.
We work hard to prevent and resolve crises. We recognize the importance of preparing for earthquakes and typhoons.
But when natural disasters strike and conflict rages, it is our duty to do everything possible for the women, children and men caught up in crisis.
This year has been dominated by very severe humanitarian emergencies, in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, and by the ebola outbreak in West Africa. The bravery of those responding to the ebola emergency has been recognised. Many humanitarian workers in other parts of the world are also putting their health at risk and their lives on the line. I thank all of them for their courage and sacrifice.
The depth and severity of humanitarian crises is rising, due to the effects of climate change, urbanization, population growth and competition for resources. When the Central Emergency Response Fund – CERF - started in 2006, some 30 million people were in need of aid. Now that number is more than 100 million.
Millions of Syrians and Iraqis are surviving on the bare minimum, living in tents or on construction sites as snow falls, hoping their food vouchers will not be suspended again, praying that their children do not become sick.
I recently visited the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab in Kenya, and saw the harsh living conditions there. Spending even a short time in the dust and heat gave me a sense of how difficult life must be for more than 300,000 Somali refugees, who call that arid patch of land home.
We have established a global appeal system to help people in chronic emergencies, like that in Somalia.
But in the first few days after a disaster strikes, or when there is a serious gap in provision, we need emergency funds, and we need them fast.
The CERF is one of the most effective tools we have to help people face the immediate, devastating effects of natural disasters, armed conflict and chronic emergencies.
It is fast. It is reliable, and it saves lives.
This year alone, CERF funding has supported people in crisis in 44 countries, from Iraq and Myanmar to Ukraine and Guatemala.
In the severe crises in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, CERF has helped humanitarian agencies protect families and feed and vaccinate their children.
In April, CERF funding helped kick-start the emergency response to the ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Then in August, when commercial airlines reduced their flights, CERF resources helped the UN Humanitarian Air Service transport medical staff and supplies to remote locations in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Some $170 million in CERF funding in 2014 went to neglected crises in 22 countries, most of them in the Sahel and Horn of Africa regions where complex, protracted emergencies continue to devastate people's lives.
Nearly two-thirds of Member States have contributed to the CERF, including Mali, for the first time this year. And like Mali, many donors are also recipients of CERF funds.
So far in 2014, Member States have donated more than $460 million dollars for CERF-funded operations – more than our $450 million dollar target. Thank you for your generosity.
We also received hundreds of thousands of dollars from corporations and from individuals who donated to campaigns through their mobile phones.
We value all these expressions of global solidarity and we will continue to work hard to justify your support.
We cannot predict what new disasters may strike in 2015. What we do know is that millions of people will continue to need help.
Now, more than ever, it is essential that every dollar spent on humanitarian aid is spent to maximum effect.
The needs are huge. There are millions of lives at stake.
I urge you to dig deep, and to contribute generously to this proven life-saving fund.
With your support, we will once again exceed our $450 million dollar target for the coming year.
Finally, I would like to thank the UN’s top humanitarian -- my colleague Under-Secretary-General Valerie Amos, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator. She has been an impressive advocate and champion in helping those victims of conflict and disaster. She has been outspoken in pressing Member States not to use humanitarian action as a substitute for resolving a crisis. And she has been tireless in raising funds for the most vulnerable and ensuring they are well managed and used.
Thank you, Valerie, for your strong leadership and commitment for humanity.
Thank you very much.
Statements on 17 December 2014