By United Nations

27 April - The United Nations-managed humanitarian fund set up to ensure rapid assistance for people affected by conflict and natural disasters allocated $415 million last year, making it possible for aid agencies to help at least 22 million people in 45 countries.

“CERF was crucial in helping the response to nearly every major crisis worldwide in 2010. It filled the most critical gaps in humanitarian funding and targeted those most in need,” states the 2010 Annual Report of the Central Emergency Response Fund.

Nearly $52 million was provided to Pakistan, which was struck by massive floods in late July, making it the top recipient of CERF funding for 2010, followed by Haiti, Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo

(DRC) and Sudan.
The first quarter of 2010 was the busiest so far in the history of the fund, which was set up by the General Assembly in 2005 and is managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

As the international intervention began in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January, CERF was able to respond quickly and effectively in the crucial early stages of the disaster. Within 15 hours of the earthquake, $10 million in CERF funding was available to humanitarian partners in the country.

By the end of the first 72 hours, a total of $25 million had been allocated, making CERF the leading source of funding for humanitarian operations in the first week after the quake, the report points out.

In 2010, CERF funds helped to provide food assistance to an estimated 22 million disaster-affected people in 28 countries; immunized nearly 20 million children; and provided more than 1.5 million people in 17 countries with emergency shelter and non-food items.

“This report shows how CERF contributions were used in 2010. And it shows that we were effective,” Under-Secretary- General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos writes in the foreword to the report.

She notes that environmental disasters, including floods, quakes and drought, will affect millions of people in 2011.

“Add to that those who will be displaced due to conflict or who will become infected by preventable diseases, and there will be millions more. Aid operations to save lives will cost billions of dollars – money that will be hard to find,” Ms. Amos says.

“That is why we need the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). It cannot meet all the needs that will arise in 2011, but used wisely it will lead to more effective responses in dozens of countries.”

Some $2.3 billion has been raised for the fund since it was set up, with the top donors being the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Denmark and Australia.