Governments fail to support global emergency fund
Governments are failing to support global emergency fund ahead of today’s UN debate
Governments are failing to support a global emergency fund despite the urgent need for improved rapid humanitarian response capacity, said international agency Oxfam today. Support for the fund is being debated at the United Nations General Assembly today.
Oxfam said that the appalling lack of funds pledged to the UN for the Pakistan quake highlighted the need for an existing global emergency fund that could ensure a rapid response to emergencies, rather than the UN having to appeal for funds every time a crisis occurs. Pledges to the fund, to be called the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), are still at less than 20 percent of Oxfam’s target of US$1 billion – roughly equivalent to the shortfall in donor pledges to UN appeals each year.
Oxfam today named US, Belgium, Italy, France, Canada, and Australia as rich donor countries that have not yet made pledges to contribute to the global emergency fund. Oxfam’s Policy Advisor Greg Puley said that an existing fund could save thousands of lives by allowing action within 72 hours.
“The need for this fund is more obvious than ever. Millions of people are in desperate need in Pakistan but the UN has received only a quarter of the funds needed," said Oxfam’s Puley. “A permanent emergency fund would avoid a situation where people are dying needlessly until donor governments get around to putting their hands into their pockets and coming up with the money. We urge the US, Italy, France, Canada and Belgium that have so far pledged nothing, to support the fund.”
Only seven governments - UK, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland and Luxembourg - have pledged money to the fund so far. The total pledges to the CERF fund so far amount to only US$187 million. However, Oxfam estimates that a fund of US$1billion is needed to ensure that the UN can respond immediately to future disasters. Oxfam is stressing that this additional US$1billion – which amounts to less than US$1 per year for each person in the rich OECD countries – must come on top of governments existing aid budgets.
For Pakistan, the UN has only received US$119 million (with a further $40 million pledged) of the $550 million it requested for the emergency. That is only a quarter of the funding needed till the end of winter.
Oxfam has calculated how much each government should contribute to the fund according to the size of their economy, in order to reach the target of US$1billion.
As well as the inadequate response to the Pakistan Earthquake, the Oxfam report also points to the example of the food crisis in Niger this year. Despite being warned of a food shortage months in advance and the UN launching an emergency appeal, donor governments failed to pledge significant funds until the media reported children dying from malnutrition.
The global emergency fund could also provide funding for humanitarian relief in crises that never make the headlines, like those in Northern Uganda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.