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Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, Opening Remarks at High-Level Event for the Central Emergency Response Fund, 8 December 2021

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Let me personally welcome everyone here and online in my capacity as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Thank you very much for being here. That alone is testimony to your commitment.

We are here to celebrate CERF’s achievements, and we have heard about them just now, and to commit ourselves to its successful future.

Over the past 15 years, CERF has saved and protected millions of people when they have needed it the most.

As you already heard, CERF reached close to 70 million people last year.

It provided 42 million people with health care.

It got food assistance to 16 million.

Delivered water and sanitation to 12 million.

Provided protection for 9 million.

And nutrition support to 4 million.

The majority of those beneficiaries were women and girls.

This year you came through, generously providing $553 million to CERF for 2021. As a result, we expect to reach our second-highest allocation level, helping people across 34 countries.

CERF continued to demonstrate its role as one of the humanitarian system’s most effective and efficient funding instruments.

It is agile. As we saw there [in the film], when an earthquake hit Haiti in August, CERF allocated $8 million within 32 hours for the needs of the people there.

The people of Afghanistan and Ethiopia received CERF support at critical junctures this year as their crises escalated.
CERF is strategic. In Bangladesh, Somalia and 10 other crises, CERF is helping to chart system-wide change towards anticipatory action as the Secretary-General just mentioned, to enable people to get ahead of crises so they can protect their assets, feed their children and avoid long-term displacement.

CERF is principled. It was a lifeline for close to 10 million people caught in underfunded crises in 12 countries.

It also funded four critical areas that are consistently under-resourced in direct appeals through the generosity of Member States, including programmes serving women and girls and people living with disabilities, as well as emergency education and protection services.

But CERF operates in a world with ever-deepening vulnerability.

COVID-19 is still with us.

Prolonged conflicts in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere continue to fester, while conflict worsens in Ethiopia and instability is rife from Myanmar to the Sahel.

The effects of the climate crisis are devastating the lives of vulnerable people, who face prolonged and repeat droughts, more intense storms and debilitated ecosystems.

These multiple drivers have left us with a record number of people in need as we go into the next year.

In the 15 years since CERF was established, the number of people the humanitarian sector has set out to reach has grown more than sixfold, from 32 million 15 years ago to 183 million in the year to come.

Recognizing that this massive uptick in needs required a commensurate rise in funding, five years ago, as we have heard, Member States committed to a $1 billion CERF, a promise which was later endorsed by the General Assembly.

Five years on we are not there yet. We are still far from reaching that goal, even in a year of unprecedented suffering.

Meeting $1 billon for CERF requires all of us to step up.

I am proud, and I think everyone here today is also proud, that the CERF is “a fund for all and by all.” Some 130 Member States, private sector and international organizations contribute to CERF. I am deeply grateful to each of them and each of you.

But at the same time, it is also true that only 10 donors provide the vast majority of CERF’s resources.

So now we all need to commit to make CERF even stronger in 2022 with the numbers in need growing. So many lives depend on the decisions that we make here today.

And I am grateful finally to all here their support. Thank you.

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