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First Donations for Under-Resourced Emergencies

UN Disaster Relief Fund Makes First Donations for Under-Resourced Emergencies

New York, May 10 2006 3:00PM

The newly launched United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) today announced its first disbursements for the world’s most under-funded emergencies, with 12 States, 11 of them in Africa, benefiting from a total of $32 million.

The Fund, which has so far received $254 million of its $450 million target reserve, was launched two months ago to jump-start relief operations and save thousands of lives that would otherwise be lost to delay under the then-existing Central Emergency Revolving Fund, with only $50 million in resources.

A third of CERF’s resources is reserved for making up shortfalls in chronically under-funded emergencies, and today’s allocations cover long-term refugee crises and other impacts of instability and insecurity due to civil or regional conflicts.

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland, who manages the Fund, said the beneficiaries would be Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, the Republic of Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe, all in Africa; and Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Forty countries and two private sector donors have so far contributed to the Fund.

CERF made its first donations in March, when the UN World Health Organization (WHO) received $1.7 million to strengthen immunization campaigns, augment disease surveillance and train more health professionals in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, and another $200,000 for emergency health and sanitation aid in Côte d’Ivoire. But these were not specifically for long-term under-funded emergencies.

“Too often, aid resembles a lottery in which a few win but most lose based on considerations other than need,” Mr. Egeland said in March at the launching of the CERF, which was approved by the General Assembly in December as another milestone in the UN reform process. “We must move from lottery to predictability so all those who suffer receive aid,” he added.

Underscoring the importance of the new enhanced mechanism, UN officials note that under the old revolving fund it took four months between the lifting of access restrictions in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region and the commitment of funds for the relief appeal. In the meantime, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) climbed to 1.6 million and mortality rates rose above emergency levels.


ENDS

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