Western Union calls for other companies to fund CERF before crisis strikes

11 May, 2011
Western Union CEO, Mr Hikmet Ersek addresses a reception in honor of the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Fund's fifth year anniversary. Over 400 guests attended the reception included CEO's, Presidents of Foundations and other leaders in the area of corporate philanthropy. Credit: OCHA/David Ohana
Western Union CEO, Mr Hikmet Ersek addresses a reception in honor of the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Fund's fifth year anniversary. Over 400 guests attended the reception included CEO's, Presidents of Foundations and other leaders in the area of corporate philanthropy. Credit: OCHA/David Ohana

OCHA and Western Union called on the global corporate community to raise US$500,000 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of CERF, the Central Emergency Response Fund. CEO Hikmet Ersek launched the initiative on 10 May, encouraging peers to pre-fund life-saving disaster response work through CERF.

In 2011, the Western Union Foundation will match all new corporate donations to CERF dollar-for-dollar up to $250,000, to meet or exceed the fundraising goal of $500,000. In 2007, Western Union, through the Western Union Foundation, became the first corporate donor to CERF.

“We are naturally concerned when crisis impacts the communities we serve. With 445,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories, we want to ensure that a broad range of humanitarian needs are met, whether or not the disaster captures the spotlight,” said Ersek. “CERF can be there to provide relief during so-called silent emergencies, and to ensure a coordinated response to major disasters. Aid agencies should not have to pass the hat when lives hang in the balance. We encourage corporations across the globe to join us in making a difference by having funding at the ready, before crisis strikes.”

In 2010, CERF – the trust fund created by the United Nations General Assembly and managed by OCHA - allocated more than $276 million for rapid response in 37 countries and more than $139 million for underfunded emergencies in 17 countries including Yemen, Chad and Eritrea, where chronic humanitarian needs persist. Since its launch in March 2006, CERF has committed more than $1.8 billion for 1,700 projects in 78 countries and territories, spanning Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

“CERF is invaluable.  It’s the first port of call when immediate injections of cash are needed to kick-start the response during new crises,” said Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. “It is important that first responders have the resources they need to provide life-saving assistance when and where it is needed most. The matching grant challenge by Western Union will go a long way to raise awareness for our efforts, and the donations will help ensure that a pool of funds is available for relief work within hours after a disaster strikes, anywhere around the globe.”  

To learn more about CERF or to make a corporate pledge, please visit the CERF website.  

For more information on how the Western Union Foundation supports initiatives to empower people through access to economic opportunity, please visit www.westernunionfoundation.org.

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