Donors Pledge $370 Million to UN Humanitarian Emergency Fund

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Over 50 donors pledged $370 million Tuesday to the U.N. fund to finance humanitarian emergencies caused by conflict, climate change, natural disasters, the coronavirus pandemic and gender-based violence, the United Nations said.

The U.N. humanitarian office said pledges to the Central Emergency Response Fund for 2021 are higher that those announced a year ago for 2020. It said top-ups for this year's appeal, also announced Tuesday, bring the overall funding for 2020 to $620 million.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the pledging event that the fund, known as CERF, “is one of the most effective ways to help people trapped in sudden and deteriorating crises” and is quickly able to reach “under-funded emergencies that have fallen off the world's radar -- or were never on it.”

In 2020, the U.N. humanitarian office said, CERF provided life-saving assistance to some 65 million people across 52 countries and territories at a total value of more than $900 million — “the highest ever amount allocated by CERF in a single year.”

Guterres said a record $225 million went to neglected and underfunded crises.

“This has been a year like no other,” the secretary-general said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer of suffering, on top of existing crises caused by conflict and the intensifying impacts of climate change.”

Since CERF was established in 2005, it has provided close to $7 billion for humanitarian action that has helped hundreds of millions of people across more than 100 countries and territories. In 2016, the General Assembly increase CERF's annual fundraising target to $1 billion.

Stressing that CERF is “first and fastest,” U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said. “As the world faces the greatest humanitarian challenges in over a generation, we have never needed it more.”