Media CenterCRS President Calls on Congress to Appropriate Robust FY19 Foreign Aid Budget

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

You are here


Kim Pozniak
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]


WASHINGTON DC, June 8, 2018 — At a time when the poor around the world are increasingly challenged by violence, hunger, malnutrition, a changing climate and health crises, Sean Callahan, president & CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), called on Congress to adequately fund foreign aid aimed at alleviating poverty.

“I respectfully request that you maintain international poverty-focused humanitarian relief and development assistance in Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations under your jurisdiction,” he said in testimony submitted to the Senate’s Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs on June 8. 

Noting that CRS is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2018, Callahan said CRS is “proud to partner with the United States government.”

“In Fiscal Year 2017, we assisted more than 136 million people in 110 countries. With more than 1,950 local partners, many of whom are the local Church, we continue to build local capacity and promote subsidiarity so communities can take responsibility for their own development,” he said.

“We urge the committee to continue to respond to new crises without neglecting other smaller, less publicized crises impacting needy populations,” he continued, noting the “severe and ongoing hunger and malnutrition in East Africa and Yemen”.  He also highlighted continued conflict in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the refugee crisis in Bangladesh and the increased number of people fleeing Venezuela, among other challenges.

Callahan said the United States should address the root causes of migration and displacement, asking that Congress “work with the Department of State to reestablish the United States’ diplomatic commitment and capacity to address these crises, and to prioritize conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts, including continued engagement with civil society and faith-based groups.”

He went on to describe development assistance as “an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure” in these situations.

Noting that hunger has risen for the first time in a decade, now affecting 11 percent of the world’s population, Callahan testified that “Hunger and malnutrition prevent millions of people in developing countries from living healthy, productive lives and stunt the mental and physical development of future generations. Spikes in food prices can drive violence and instability. Development aid provides communities with resiliency in the face of such setbacks.”

He told the senators the story of Kulu, a 47-year-old farmer in Nigeria who got help from CRS’ Feed the Future Nigeria Livelihoods project that is supported by U.S. foreign aid.

“Previously, her harvests were just enough to feed her family of eight two meals a day. Thanks to a cash grant, Kulu has expanded her farm and begun a second job selling spices and herbs in her village. For the first time, her family now eats three meals a day,” he said.

“We urge you to allocate $1 billion of Development Assistance funding for the agriculture, resilience, and nutrition programs authorized by the Global Food Security Act, which is used to support small-scale farmers like Kulu,” he said.

To help the poor adapt to climate change, Callahan urged Congress to provide $500 million toward the Green Climate Fund. And he said that Fiscal Year 2018 funding levels for life-giving global health should be maintained along with recent investments in global health security systems.

“With the recent outbreak of Ebola in the DRC, it is clear this funding is essential.”

“The well-being of underserved and vulnerable populations must ultimately be the raison d’etre for USAID’s work. Altruism and the belief in the inherent dignity of each human person motivate the American people, particularly those who donate to CRS.”

Read Sean Callahan's full testimony.


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
June 8, 2018

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