Flanders doubles donation to UN emergency response fund

Summary

Citing the selfless humanitarian work of Saint Damien, Flanders’ representative to the US doubled the region’s pledge at the Cerf conference in New York

€600,000 for Cerf

The government of Flanders has pledged €600,000 for 2016 to the United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund (Cerf) at a conference in New York. The pledge is double the usual donation and accounts for 40% of Flanders’ emergency aid budget.

This year’s high-level pledging conference in New York, at which member states, UN agencies, NGOs and other potential donors gather at UN headquarters, was the 10th edition. It was also of particular importance in the run-up to next year’s World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, at which the current humanitarian system will be reviewed.

Cerf was set up by the UN General Assembly in 2005 to act as an immediate response to global emergencies to prevent loss of life and provide timely assistance to those in need. Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois promised an increase in Flanders’ contribution at a meeting with UN coordinator Valerie Amos last May.

Flanders was represented at the conference by Geert De Proost, the general representative to the US. Unlike most UN member states, Flanders contributes directly to Cerf as a region, and its increased pledge is intended, De Proost said, to encourage other regional and local authorities to do the same.

In his speech he also referred to the 19th-century Flemish priest Father Damian and the inauguration of the Father Damian Way in New York this year. Saint Damian, who devoted his life to the leprosy colony on the island of Molokai, is “a symbol for respect for human rights, solidarity and emergency relief”. His message is still relevant today, said De Proost.

Photo: Geert De Proost at the UN Cerf conference in New York
©Courtesy vlaanderen.be