Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance

$50 million*

Minimum Requirement for American Leadership

The Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) fund is a drawdown account designed to ensure that the U.S. government has sufficient resources for refugee assistance in unanticipated and urgent humanitarian crises.

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Justification for Funding

  • ERMA funds are used to support the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) response to the needs of refugees who flee crises.
  • In recent years, ERMA funding has been used to respond to unanticipated needs in countries such as Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria.
  • Outlays from the ERMA account have met new obligations in recent years, demonstrating demand for ERMA funding despite cumbersome requirements to pull funding from the account.

Cost of Cuts Below $50 Million

President and Congress Budget Comparison

       Congressional Budget   

       President's Budget Request (Base + OCO)

  • Without continued flexibility to respond to unanticipated humanitarian crises, additional burdens will be placed upon accounts like Migration and Refugee Assistance and International Disaster Assistance, whose funding streams are already largely spoken for.
  • Without such flexibility, the United States would be forced to make trade-offs between funding existing and planned-for refugee responses or sudden onset responses — such as the displacement of the Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh.


$100 million

Opportunity to Catalyze American Leadership


Justification for Additional Funding

135.7 million
people are in need of humanitarian assistance worldwide.

  • InterAction recommends that Congress increase the authorized ceiling for the ERMA account to $250 million and fully fund the current ceiling of $100 million.
  • InterAction recommends a series of reforms to improve ERMA. ERMA has been funded at a much lower level than its authorized cap in recent years, leaving it as an underutilized resource in the face of growing humanitarian needs – particularly refugee assistance.
  • To enhance U.S. capacity to respond quickly and effectively to unanticipated crises, the Secretary of State, rather than the President, should be given the authority to use ERMA funds to speed response to emergencies.
  • The current requirement of a presidential certification is cumbersome and too often results in unnecessary and costly delays in delivering critical assistance.

*Enacted FY17 Appropriation

For more information, please contact: Tom Buttry, tbuttry@interaction.org

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