Media CenterEight Global Humanitarian Crises to Watch in 2022

Photo by Georges Harry Rouzier for CRS

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Nikki Gamer
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(978) 884-0003

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, Dec. 27 2021 – Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the international charity of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, is out with a roundup of the world’s top humanitarian crises to watch in 2022. Topping CRS’ list are the growing hunger crises in Afghanistan and Ethiopia.

“As COVID-19 spreads, so do the shadow pandemics of hunger and malnutrition. Many other crises, whether they’re driven by COVID-19, climate change, political upheaval or protracted conflict, require our immediate attention,” said Caroline Brennan, CRS’ communications director for emergency response.

According to an annual United Nations report, a record 274 million people need humanitarian support – a 17% increase from the previous year. In the meantime, international donors have provided less than half the necessary funding to meet the growing needs.

“Even with the support and unwavering commitment from our donors, not enough attention and funding is being directed toward urgent crises,” Brennan said. “Critical investments have fallen short of meeting mounting humanitarian needs.”

As the official international aid agency of the U.S. Catholic Church, CRS works in more than 110 countries. CRS' relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency responseHIVhealthagriculturewatereducationmicrofinancepeacebuilding and partnership.

The following list includes the eight humanitarian crises that CRS staff believe could plunge millions more people into deepening poverty in 2022:

#1 Afghanistan
Following the Taliban’s August takeover, Afghanistan has slid into economic freefall, made worse by a prolonged drought that has left 23 million Afghans at risk of starvation. The situation is especially alarming given the onset of winter and a lack of food, which is already forcing families to sell assets. CRS is providing cash to thousands of rural farming families in some of the hardest-hit areas while continuing its primary education program for 17,500 children. 

#2 Ethiopia
More than 8 million people are affected by the conflict in the Amhara, Afar and Tigray regions of Ethiopia, including 2.1 million people who have been displaced from their homes. Millions are in urgent need of food and other lifesaving assistance. Since the start of the conflict, CRS has provided food to 3 million people, with the hopes to reach up to 6.5 million people once access to the most affected areas permits.

#3 Madagascar
Southern Madagascar is experiencing its worst drought in more than 40 years, which has led to a worsening hunger crisis. Consecutive months of lower-than-average rainfall have decimated harvests while impacting the ability of farmers to put food on the table. What’s more, the price of food – from rice to maize to cooking oil – has skyrocketed. Nearly half a million children under the age of 5 are malnourished. CRS provides a range of assistance throughout the country, including food, clean water, cash and seeds for farmers.

#4: Yemen
Yemen’s five-year-old war between Houthi rebels and government forces, backed by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition, has caused a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. With a blockade and insecurity limiting people’s access to food and income, 80% of the population is in urgent need of aid, including 2 million children suffering from acute malnutrition. Health systems have collapsed, along with access to clean water and sanitation, which has led to deadly cholera outbreaks. To address the spread of disease, CRS and our partners are supporting health systems across the country.

#5: Venezuela
Since 2015, nearly 90% of Venezuela’s population has been pushed below the poverty line amid the country’s ongoing social and economic upheaval. More than 5.6 million Venezuelans have since left the country, straining resources in neighboring countries. CRS is supporting the work of Caritas Venezuela, which includes a range of social services. CRS also supports local organizations in neighboring countries.

#6: Central America
In addition to struggling with chronic poverty, tens of thousands of families across Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador live in constant fear of gang violence. A lack of job opportunities, coupled with successive failed harvests driven by climate change, have made the situation even more bleak. According to the Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2021, the spread of COVID-19 has added to the region’s worsening food security outlook. As a result, thousands of families continue to flee north to escape the region’s harsh conditions. The Catholic Church has played a critical role in supporting migrants, from providing them with places to bathe and eat, along with medical care and other services. CRS supports more than three dozen frontline partner organizations across Mexico and Guatemala. In addition, CRS provides support to returning migrants in Honduras.

#7: Haiti
Haiti continues to reel following a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit the country in August, wiping out critical infrastructure and killing more than 2,000 people. To make matters worse, ongoing economic and political unrest have jeopardized humanitarian and development activities, leaving an estimated 4.9 million in need of support. CRS is reaching hundreds of thousands of people with emergency support, including providing shelter rehabilitation, cash assistance and improved access to clean water.

#8: The Central Sahel
Across Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, violent extremism has uprooted more than 2 million people from their homes, creating one of the fastest-growing displacement crises in the world. High unemployment, corruption, a lack of social services and unequal access to capital have crippled economies and have left young people especially vulnerable to bad actors who seek to profit from their relative poverty. As the chaos spreads, those on the coasts wonder whether their communities will fall next. In 2019, the Catholic Church in West Africa, with support from CRS, launched the Sahel Peace Initiative to raise awareness of the crisis, advocate for change and to mobilize humanitarian and development support.

[Editor’s note: The list only includes countries where CRS works.]


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, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Nikki Gamer

Senior Public Affairs Manager

Nikki Gamer
December 27, 2021

Based in Baltimore, MD

Nikki is the Senior Public Affairs Manager for CRS and connects journalists to regional stories and sources related to the agency’s life-saving development work. Previously, Nikki worked as the Communications Officer for the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia. She has covered CRS’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the mass displacement...More