Migration Emergency Response Fund

Filling the gap in humanitarian responses for migrants in Africa

The Start Network’s Migration Emergency Response Fund (MERF) allows organisations to provide a rapid response to changes in needs along the migration route.

Photo credit - Marija Piroški

About the MERF

Adapting to fluctuating needs along the migration route

The Migration Emergency Response Fund (MERF) is a rapid response context-specific contingency fund operated and managed by the Start Network, its members, and in collaboration with its donor, UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). The objective of the MERF is to rapidly respond to acute and emerging gaps and changes in needs along migration route. It is also meant to provide support to the overall response system to give it time to adjust and adapt to new needs and to improve the effectiveness and understanding of the migration response and trends. It operates in 11 countries: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Sudan and Tunisia.


Start members can raise an alert in the following circumstances:

New/unforeseen humanitarian needs that cannot be responded to under current programming

Emergence of new vulnerable groups not covered under ongoing programmes

Clear systemic gaps that are currently not covered under ongoing programmes but have a high impact on the beneficiaries affected

Types of Alert


1. Alert for a 1-3-month response - Standard response

2. Alert for a 3-6-month response – Can be used in circumstances where a slightly longer response can be strongly justified              

3. Crisis Anticipation – Can be raised for 1-3 month projects where a crisis can be anticipated


Collaborative Information Collection and Analysis (CICA) grant – A grant for needs assessments, context analysis or information gathering that could be used to build a case for further funding

The MERF is funded by the British Department for International Development (DFID) and is delivered as part of a consortium project with the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).


MERF partners:

The MERF initially ran from January to December 2017 and funded 15 projects in 4 countries. Lessons from this phase have been built into the second phase of the MERF. Please find the MERF annual report here, and independent research on the MERF and Mixed Migration Flows along the Mediterranean here.


The MERF came after the Start Network had responded to migration in Europe through the European Refugees Response programmes in 2015 and 2016. You can find more information about these programmes here.


MERF members 

Action Against Hunger




Care International 

Catholic Relief Services

Christian Aid

Danish Refugee Council

Doctors of the World

Dorcas Aid International


Humanity & Inclusion

International Medical Corps 

International Rescue Committee

Mines Advisory Group

Mercy Corps

Norweigian Refugee Council


Plan International 

Solidarites International 


World Vision





Further Information

Find out more about the MERF