MERF ends after providing assistance to more than 175,000 people
After more than three years, the Start Network’s Migration Emergency Response Fund (MERF) has closed. The fund was set up to address the unpredictable nature of the mixed migration context across the Mediterranean and rapidly respond to new or emerging needs. It also aimed to improve the effectiveness and understanding of migration responses and trends.
Funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), the MERF has funded over 30 projects across nine countries in Europe and Africa, including nine Collaborative Information Collection and Analysis (CICA) grants since 2017. It has done so through two phases, the first of which ran in 2017 in partnership with 15 Start Network members across 18 countries, primarily in Europe and North Africa. The second phase was launched in July 2018, involving 23 partners across 11 countries in North, West, and Central Africa. Information about all alerts can be accessed through the MERF alert dashboard.
MERF Programme Manager, Melina Koutsis, said: “The MERF provided fast and flexible lifesaving assistance to a particularly hard to reach and often overlooked population. Thanks to its members, it has also provided a wealth of information on various mixed migration contexts through the CICA grant, from needs assessments in southern Tunisia and along new migration routes northern Mali, to more in-depth research on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on migrants.”
CEO Of Start Network, Christina Bennett, said: “The Migration Emergency Response Fund has helped to respond to the fluctuating needs of refugees and migrants at key points along their journeys. The lessons learned will contribute to ongoing discussions around the complexity of mixed migration responses in humanitarian contexts, as well as feed into Start Network’s future financing strategies such as the Start Financing Facility.”
In order to better understand the opportunities and challenges of running an NGO-driven, context-specific, rapid response contingency fund, Start Network recently commissioned a research piece, which took a mixed-methods approach. Seventeen key findings and 18 recommendations were drawn from this research and are detailed in the final report. It also published practical guidance on implementing feedback and complaints mechanisms in the context of mixed migration in English, French, and Spanish.