With two devastating humanitarian disasters, 2010 has been a particularly challenging year. In Haiti, almost a quarter of a million people lost their lives when the earthquake struck. Large parts of the capital and of the country’s infrastructure were reduced to rubble. Over a million people are still living in makeshift camps. On top of all this, the country has now been hit by a cholera epidemic.
In Pakistan, a total area the size of the British Isles was submerged in flood waters in the worst flood disaster in modern times. Over 20 million people have been affected, and many of them still need assistance. In addition, 2010 was a year beset by a number of other crises, both natural and man-made. Several of these have had little media coverage.
“Many crises occur in countries that lack the resources and capacity to deal with them. These countries depend on having well-functioning international humanitarian emergency response mechanisms that can be mobilised rapidly to provide emergency relief and alleviate human suffering. The UN plays a key role in the coordination of humanitarian assistance, and the International Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is the most important joint financing mechanism to this end,” Mr Støre said.
The Fund was established in 2006, and has since then paid out more than USD 1.9 billion in total to 79 countries affected by humanitarian disasters. So far this year, CERF has provided a total of USD 260 million to 34 countries affected by acute crises, and a total of USD 139 million to 17 countries experiencing protracted crises that are often overlooked. Due to a lack of international attention, many countries struggle to finance their emergency relief efforts, and the CERF funds are used to cover their most pressing needs.
“Time is critical when it comes to saving lives and alleviating human suffering, and CERF has shown itself to be the most effective mechanism we have for mobilising a rapid humanitarian response,” Foreign Minister Støre remarked.
“We must be prepared for new humanitarian disasters in 2011. Norway is a leading humanitarian actor on the global stage. Being at the forefront by providing substantial support for CERF is a natural part of our engagement in this area,” Mr Støre said.
During a period in which a number of donor countries have reduced their contributions to CERF due to the financial crisis, Norway has increased its support for the Fund. In January this year Norway paid NOK 325 million (USD 53 million) into the Fund, and now at the end of the year this amount is being supplemented by an additional NOK 50 million (USD 8 million). This makes Norway one of the largest donors to the Fund in 2010.
For more information about CERF, see http://ochaonline.un.org/cerf