Media CenterWar in Ukraine Among Multiple Threats Driving Global Hunger to Unprecedented Levels, New CRS Report Says

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Brittany Wichtendahl
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(757) 748-5003

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, June 22, 2022 – According to the latest hunger analysis issued by Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the number of people experiencing food insecurity has skyrocketed in recent months, largely due to conflict, climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and rising costs tied to the war in Ukraine. The report, an analysis of countries where CRS works, highlights five countries of greatest concern, including: Afghanistan, Madagascar, Nigeria, South Sudan and Sudan.

“As a result of the war in Ukraine, everywhere you look, the cost of food and fuel have risen precipitously,” said Sean Callahan, CRS’ president and CEO. “People from Louisiana to Lesotho are struggling to feed their families. As a result, the number of food insecure people around the world is at a historic high.”

According to the 2022 Global Report on Food Crises, the number of people facing extreme hunger has nearly doubled in the last five years – from 94 million to 181 million.

By the end of 2021, the United Nations Refugee Agency estimated more than 83 million people were forced to migrate due to conflict, persecution or human rights violations – the highest number since World War II. Food prices also remain high – with prices for cereal and meat continuing to increase month over month – meaning households have lower purchasing power. At the same time, rising costs also mean U.S. aid dollars will not stretch as far as they would in years past.

“USAID’s purchasing power for food commodities has dropped 11.4% in one year,” the report states. “Which could lead to 10 million fewer people reached by U.S. government food assistance.”

The threat of climate change also has aid agencies like CRS increasingly concerned. For instance, in Afghanistan, a prolonged drought has decimated crops and wiped-out families’ food supplies.

“The drought is so severe this year that underage boys and men are migrating to Iran for work so that they can send money back for food,” said Anne Bousquet, CRS’ country representative for Afghanistan. “One family even admitted selling their 5-year-old daughter to provide food for the rest of the family. Even the livestock, which is a main livelihood for many families, are dying due to a shortage of food and water. The situation is dire for so many families, and they have expressed that without the support of NGOs and the government, they’ll have to leave their villages in search of more fertile land or die.”

Madagascar is another country struggling with climate change, where farming communities in the south have reckoned with consecutive years of drought. The southern part of the country is of highest concern, with more than 1.5 million people facing crisis levels of hunger as a result of being forced to wait out supply chain delays.

“Madagascar is a last mile country,” said Carla Fajardo, country representative for CRS in Madagascar. “We are far away from transportation hubs. Therefore, this island nation relies on a single company to import goods and food to the island. This fact makes it difficult for food to arrive on time and in good condition.”

In order to combat global hunger, CRS urges the administration to make short-term adjustments, including granting a waiver for U.S. cargo preference requirements, as well as long-term investments in local food production and debt cancellation. A complete list of policy recommendations can be found in the full report.

*To access CRS’ full report, “The Challenge of Compounding Crises on Hunger,” click here.


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 &
Brittany Wichtendahl
June 22, 2022

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