Media CenterCRS Joins 40+ Aid Organizations Calling on Congress to Provide $1 Billion to Address Food Crises in Africa and Yemen

Photo by Mohamed Sheikh Nor for CRS

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Kim Pozniak
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]


WASHINGTON, DC, April 7 — Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) president & CEO, Sean Callahan, joins 42 other CEOs of major international aid organizations calling on Congress to provide $1 billion in emergency funding for 2017 to address famine and food insecurity, particularly in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen.

Some 20 million people are facing starvation due to conflict and prolonged drought. Further, the impact of malnutrition on children in these four countries is devastating. Lack of proper nutrition is the underlying cause of 45 percent of all child deaths worldwide. For those children who survive, the lack of proper nutrition at the start of life can cause lifelong disabilities and stunting. The United Nations has warned that $4.4 billion is needed by July to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.

In a letter to the House and Senate State, Foreign Operations Subcommittees of Appropriations, the organizations working on humanitarian and development issues in some of the world’s poorest countries, write: “This simultaneous occurrence of famine and near-famine conditions is historic and unprecedented. The impacts are already occurring, with approximately 1.4 million children at immediate risk of death without urgent action by the international community.”

Members of Congress, led by Representatives Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), also sent a letter this week to their Appropriations colleagues urgently requesting $1 billion in emergency funds, including at least $400 million in International Disaster Assistance, allowing for the utmost speed and flexibility in providing critical aid to the areas most in need.

As the House and Senate work to complete the Fiscal Year 2017 spending bills, swift U.S leadership is needed to mobilize other donors and the international community to provide the urgent funds needed to save lives before it is too late.

In 2011, a famine in Somalia killed 260,000 people, and the current drought is said to be worse. In South Sudan, famine was already declared in one state, putting 100,000 people at risk of starving to death, and ongoing insecurity threatens to exacerbate food insecurity levels in other parts of the country.

At the same time, 300,000 to 450,000 children face severe acute malnutrition in northeast Nigeria, where Boko Haram has terrorized communities and where farmers have been forced to flee their crops. The largest humanitarian crisis is in Yemen, where more than half of the country’s population is short of food, and more than 7 million people are in need of urgent food assistance.

“If we wait until famine is declared in every one of these countries, thousands of lives will already be lost, and the response will come at an exorbitant economic cost,” the NGO letter states.


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit or and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief@CRSnewsYouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.


Kim Pozniak

Director of Communications

Kim Pozniak
April 7, 2017

Based in Baltimore, MD

As the Director of Communications, Kim oversees the communications and social media teams working with journalists and the media to connect them with engaging stories about relief and development programs that are making a tangible difference in people’s lives around the world.

Her previous work at CRS includes handling emergency...More