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Speech by Minister Zappone Minister Zappone re-affirming Ireland's commitment to UN disaster relief - New York

Secretary-General, Under-Secretary-General, your excellencies,

I’m very pleased to be here with you today. Ireland is immensely proud of its longstanding support to CERF. We have contributed to the fund every year since it was established.  It remains a core pillar of our humanitarian response.

Reflecting Ireland’s confidence in CERF, we are committing at least €10 million per year to the fund for the next three years.

This is our first multi-annual commitment. It highlights our continued dedication to CERF and recognition of the importance of predictable funding.

This week the Under-Secretary-General informed us that that almost 132 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. Conflict and violence continue to drive food insecurity on a devastating scale. This is intensified by the effects of climate change. We are here today to press for a commensurate, and coordinated, global response to the unprecedented global needs. Ireland continues to support CERF as it is the global humanitarian frontline in the battle against these threats - responding first, and responding where it’s needed most.

As Ireland’s Minister responsible for Children and Young People I am particularly proud of how CERF responds to the needs of the most vulnerable.

When conflict erupts, it is women and children who suffer the most. Women and girls are at risk of gender-based violence and exploitation. Children are deprived of their right to education and suffer from malnutrition. These consequences echo throughout their lives. I believe that our response to the suffering of the most vulnerable amongst us is a measure of our common humanity. And Ireland supports CERF as it reaches those furthest behind first, delivering assistance and protection for millions of women and children. An estimated 54 per cent of the 23 million people reached by CERF in 2016 were women and girls, and more than half were children.

CERF’s response in the Sahel region demonstrates its effectiveness. This year, countries in the Sahel faced a dire humanitarian crisis, experiencing their highest levels of food insecurity since 2012. At the start of the year more than 1.6 million children under five years old needed treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

As the situation deteriorated CERF acted quickly, releasing €30 million to reach the worst-hit communities. CERF’s aid included protection, nutrition and psychosocial support for children. It also included reproductive services to combat maternal and newborn mortality. In a crisis where needs are alarmingly high, yet funding critically low, Ireland is assured that CERF protected those in need. CERF acted as a source of survival and hope for millions, as we saw in Awa’s story.

Finally, I would like to speak to CERF’s motto of “for all, by all”, to which my country attaches particular significance. CERF fosters global  solidarity as it responds based on need alone, regardless of where crises occur. One third of the countries that have benefitted from CERF’s response during times of crisis are also now proud contributors to the fund. There is no better testament to the effectiveness of CERF and the confidence that countries hold in its role.

In 2005, we, the Member States of the United Nations, came together and adopted the resolution that established CERF.

This set the stage for a unique, effective and efficient humanitarian fund. A fund that has saved countless lives and immeasurably improved our collective humanitarian response. Today, almost 13 years later, the need for a strong CERF that plays a larger role in the humanitarian system is greater than ever. Crises are growing more protracted and complex. Climate change is causing natural disasters of increasingly destructive force. The number of people in need has more than quadrupled since CERF was first established.

Humanitarian response cannot alone end the suffering of the millions of people trapped today in humanitarian crises. Every member of this United Nations must play its part to ensure that conflicts are prevented. When they do emerge, civilians must be protected and supported. Peace must be restored. Ireland stands ready to play its part.

As we work together towards this end, I call on all member states to deepen our support to CERF. Indeed, I believe that this is our responsibility to the millions of people who continue to live under the shadow of hunger, poverty and violence wrought by humanitarian crises.