Media CenterCRS Responds to East Africa Hunger Emergency

Photo by Mohamed Sheikh Nor for CRS

You are here


Michael Stulman
Catholic Relief Services
221 77 370 3037
[email protected]

Nikki Gamer
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(443) 955- 7125


23 million Imperiled by Drought, Conflict

BALTIMORE, MD/NAIROBI, February 27, 2017 – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is mounting an emergency response to assist some of the 23 million people facing hunger in South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

A combination of violence, insecurity and weather upheavals made increasingly worse by climate change has brought on this crisis to East Africa, with some areas of South Sudan now facing a famine. In Somalia, the hunger crisis has reached a new high, with millions of people on the brink of famine.

“Further complicating this issue are worries among the international community and humanitarian workers that the U.S. government could be considering budget cuts to overseas development and disaster assistance programs,” said David Orth-Moore, Regional Director of CRS in East Africa. “We’re very concerned that life-saving aid could be cut, as well as funding for the kind of long-term development work necessary to prevent these crises in the first place.”

“The administration is also seeking to bar travel to the U.S. by refugees, including Somalis. At this time, when the Horn of Africa is one of hardest-hit places globally in terms of conflict, insecurity and now hunger, the U.S. should show leadership, as it always has, in helping the most devastated people, regardless of where they come from,” Orth-Moore said.

East Africa is home to approximately 4 million refugees, and the numbers have been increasing as people flee South Sudan. In addition, there are more than 11 million internally displaced people in East Africa, who, though they have not crossed an international border, still live in tent cities, dependent on food aid and other external assistance.

Refugees from South Sudan have now surpassed 1.5 million people, with only Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia having numbers that are higher. South Sudan is appealing to the international community to help, and has stated it would seek to ensure humanitarian access to the most vulnerable people can be reached.

In Somalia, camps that normally house people seeking refuge from violence are now taking in people who can no longer find or afford food and water. Most are completely destitute after three consecutive years of meager harvests, having sold their livestock and possessions.

CRS has been managing relief and development projects in all of the affected countries for many years, and has a strong and well-established presence that allows it to reach some of the most vulnerable people.

In South Sudan, CRS has been providing food aid to some 800,000 people in Jonglei State in the central part of the country, where levels of hunger and malnutrition are not far below the areas where famine has been declared.

In Uganda, CRS has also rapidly mounted a response to assist South Sudanese pouring over the border seeking refuge from hunger and violence. CRS and its partners is focusing on sanitation and hygiene to prevent illness and disease, as well as materials and assistance in building shelters. An estimated 2000 South Sudanese per day continue to cross into Uganda.

In Somalia, CRS is assisting vulnerable people with emergency food aid, including a growing number of climate refugees, thanks to funding from the US government.

CRS in Ethiopia continues to provide emergency food assistance in drought stricken areas and is currently assisting nearly half a million people in the southern and eastern areas of Oromia, and the humanitarian needs are expected to increase over the coming months.

“We should not only be opening our doors to refugees, but in addition we should be boosting funding for assistance to people in need,” Orth-Moore said. “Engaging overseas is one of the best ways to ensure the security of our own country.  In the end, that’s not the main motivation. The motivation is our own moral obligation and our fundamental values as Americans.”


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.

CRS responds to the 23 million imperiled by drought and conflict in Africa. More