New York

11 December 2012

Secretary-General's remarks at Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) High-level Conference

Welcome, everyone. Thank you for your participation.

I have just come from the Middle East, where I saw the value of your contributions in the eyes of refugees living in camps.

The Syrian refugees I met in Jordan and Turkey are traumatized by conflict. They are deeply worried about their families back home … their country … and their future.

I was especially moved by the children I met. Like children everywhere, they have so much energy … but they have been through a terrible ordeal.

Our schools, shelter and supplies could never replace the sense of security that only a political solution can provide. That is why I am pressing so hard for progress on the political front.

But we can give these children a measure of normalcy. A desk, some pencils and paper, basic food and medicine. It is not enough … but it is the least they deserve.

In Syria, in the Sahel and Sudan … in Haiti, West Africa, Pakistan and the Philippines … in Colombia, Peru and Paraguay … around the world where people are suffering, CERF offers relief.

Thank you everyone in this room who makes it possible for this Fund to save lives.

From flood zones to war zones, CERF stops crises from turning into catastrophes. The Fund does this through quick, targeted support when an emergency starts or by injecting funds in stubbornly under-funded situations.

The United Nations is focusing on prevention. We are mediating in tense situations so they do not explode into conflict. We are building resilience in vulnerable areas. We are pushing for action on climate change. And we are demanding full protection for human rights to create more stable societies.

But our work cannot prevent all disasters. They are a fact of life in our world. And emergencies are getting worse – more intense, more widespread and more frequent.

CERF is not just an acronym for a multi-million dollar fund. It is the vaccine that saves a child from yellow fever … or his mother from meningitis. It is the blanket that covers a refugee family when temperatures drop below freezing. It is the sanitary supply that allows a young girl to go to school with confidence and dignity.

The Fund helps governments meet their citizen’s own needs.

When floods wash away homes and hope… when wars tear apart schools and hospitals … when drought destroys crops and prospects, CERF reminds the victims that they are not alone.

CERF is more than a message from the international community – it is real help for the most vulnerable members of our human family.

Today we have a pledging conference. We ask that you give as much as possible to this immensely important Fund.

But we also make a pledge to you. Our pledge – my pledge – is that we will make the absolute best use of your precious contributions. We know that your revenue is hard-earned and that your donations are entrusted to us on behalf of the people we serve.

I thank you for your generosity and your trust. I promise that it will be met with the highest standards of rigorous accounting and transparent management.

I made another pledge to the refugees I met last week. They showed such perseverance, hope and resolve in the face of great trauma. I pledged to do everything possible to help them and others around the world who are living through emergencies – and who need our solidarity and support.

I count on all of you to advance this cause through the CERF.

Thank you for your commitment.