Statement at the Central Emergency Response Fund High Level Conference
H.E. Karel J.G. van Oosterom
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
to the United Nations
New York, 13 December 2013
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished delegates,
The Central Emergency Response Fund is the only world- and system-wide fund which can respond within days to support life-saving activities in sudden onset emergencies on a large scale, as we have seen in the Philippines.
And in our world, where media coverage and twitter soundbites are a key factor in attracting attention and funding, the CERF supports the same kind of assistance for people in crises which do not make the headlines every day, on the basis of clear criteria and the humanitarian principles.
The Netherlands attaches great importance to these functions of the CERF, which is why my country has been a staunch supporter of the CERF and one of its biggest donors. Our total contribution to date stands at 320 million EUR (around 439 million US dollars).
Our reasons are simple: CERF has proven its worth as a unique and successful mechanism for timely, predictable and flexible funding for saving lives in humanitarian emergencies throughout the world.
Moreover, CERF supports the leadership of the Emergency Relief Coordinator and the coordination of humanitarian action by OCHA worldwide, which is essential for a truly effective and responsive humanitarian system.
The recent natural disaster in the Philippines has again shown the need for fast, flexible funding, as provided by CERF. Let me take this opportunity to express our solidarity with the victims of typhoon Haiyan. I would also like to commend Valerie Amos for making a point of visiting the Philippines twice within 10 days after the disaster, by which she not only contributed directly to resolve coordination bottlenecks, but also personified the strong support of the international community.
I am encouraged to see that the humanitarian system is open to learn lessons from this particular crisis, and is determined to make its response even more effective.
I would also encourage OCHA and others to consider that donors who make a greater part of their humanitarian aid available via large unearmarked contributions to CERF, like the Netherlands, would appreciate to get public credits for their efforts for effectiveness, in order to keep support for this policy at home.
The impact of the crisis in Syria is devastating, for the country itself and its neighbours. And I want to take this opportunity to urge any Member State with influence over the warring parties to use this influence to increase access to people in need, and to provide protection to Syrian citizens, especially those trapped in hard to reach and besieged areas. Attacks on medical facilities, staff and schools must stop.
The CERF is a key instrument for the humanitarian response in Syria, the Philippines, and other major crises. But with humanitarian emergencies on the rise, more donors should come in.
Last year we announced our contribution of a total of 120 million Euro (or 150 million USD) for the period of 2013 - 2015. Today I can confirm that –in spite of harsh economic times – that pledge still stands. CERF remains a priority for our humanitarian funding. In 2014, The Netherlands will contribute 40 million Euro.
The Fund is still heavily dependent on small number of donors, providing the bulk of the support. We would like to encourage other donors to increase their contribution to the CERF and if possible, to provide long-term contributions to the CERF. Contributions stretching over more than one year greatly support the planning for assistance.
In order to make the CERF even more effective and increase contributions, three factors are important:
• One: At the country- and project level the contribution of activities of UN agencies to CERF results should be better visible;
• Two: UN-agencies should identify and resolve the bottlenecks to more timely disbursement of CERF-funds to NGOs. They should also be clearly marked as coming from the CERF. We will urge UN agencies in the Executive Board meetings to do so;
• Three, and this is more a question to the panel; Does the CERF have specific procedures in place to make agencies respond faster in the event of Level 3 emergencies, such as the crisis in Syria and the Philippines and now the CAR?
If properly addressed, these issues could contribute to generating more diversified sources of funding to the CERF, and more funding in general. It would also be in line with the objectives of the IASC Transformative Agenda.
Let me end by thanking the CERF team, and especially all the dedicated people who deliver the humanitarian assistance funded by the CERF every day, to people in need.