food-program-bolivia.jpgThe United Nations emergency relief fund, set up to speed response to those suffering from natural and man-made disasters, has reached its $450 million annual funding target for the first time, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced today.

The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which now stands at $452.5 million, was created by the General Assembly in 2006 to allow the world body to quickly access its accounts, potentially saving thousands of lives, treat or prevent diseases, and restore livelihoods.

Contributors to the emergency fund in 2008 included not only 81 UN Member States but a number of private donors. The largest donations coming from the United Kingdom ($80 million), the Netherlands ($64 million), Sweden ($56 million), Norway ($55 million) and Spain ($44 million). The greatest private contributor was PricewaterhouseCoopers, donating $500,000.

Since its creation more than 100 Member States and private donors have pledged some $1.5 billion to the Fund, which has disbursed $1.1 billion to emergency programs in 67 countries since March 2006.

A pledging conference at the beginning of December has already yielded some $380 million in commitments for next year, as well as several new donors including Afghanistan, Benin, Kenya, Laos, Oman, Samoa, Saint Lucia, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam.

A total of 101 nations have now contributed to the Fund, representing well over half of all UN Member States, and a number of them significantly increased their donations for 2009, including Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Finland, Germany, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Republic of Korea, Spain and Sweden.

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