Mr Benn, who led the campaign for the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), speaking at the British Red Cross at the launch of DFID’s new humanitarian policy paper, said:
“The setting up of the CERF in March this year was a big step forward for humanitarian relief. The UN now has the money to enable it to get going quickly when disaster strikes. The fund has already helped out in the drought in the horn of Africa.
“It is also now in a better position to respond to the forgotten emergencies – the ones the television cameras don’t cover and people don’t talk about – such as Burundi, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire and Democratic Republic of Congo.
“But the CERF will need funding every year because sadly, we know that disasters – whether from earthquakes, floods or fighting – will happen every year.
“So now is the time to show that the CERF will have the money to do its job year in, year out. That is why the UK – which is the largest contributor to the fund – will give £40 million a year over the next 3 years, a total commitment of £120 million.
“I now urge all the other countries, which so generously helped get the fund off the ground, to make a similar long term commitment so the CERF can go on making a real difference to the lives of people in need of our help.”
Mr Benn also announced the UK will increase DFID’s core funding to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to £20m per year, and praised the courage and professionalism of humanitarian staff who “selflessly serve humanity across the world”.
In order to tackle the potential threat posed by avian flu DFID also announced today a contribution of £3.5m to the World Bank Fund for the Avian and Human Influenza that will help low income eligible countries with preparations.