Media CenterCRS Calls for Open Borders in Yemen to Allow for Humanitarian Access

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Megan Gilbert
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(443) 825-3640


BALTIMORE, MD,  November 22, 2017 (updated December 22, 2017) – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) calls for an end to a blockade of land, sea and air borders around Yemen that has exacerbated a catastrophic humanitarian crisis there.   

“People are starving, with little to no access to food and clean drinking water,” Bill O’Keefe, CRS’s Vice President for Government Relations and Advocacy said. CRS continues to support Islamic Relief in Yemen as the humanitarian crisis there continues to get worse, threatening millions of lives. “They are desperate for help, and we are grateful that Islamic Relief, with our support, can provide some of the things they need.”

In November the U.N. warned that Yemen is on the brink of famine. Nearly 80 percent of the country doesn’t have enough to eat, and 22 million Yemenis rely exclusively on humanitarian aid for survival. The number of cholera cases in Yemen has reached one million. According to the U.N., a child dies every ten minutes in Yemen.

Through support to Islamic Relief in Yemen, CRS is providing food and medical supplies to help 24,000 malnourished children and pregnant women survive the food shortages. Islamic Relief is also responding by providing medicine to health workers to treat cholera, as well as providing hygiene kits, clean water and water quality monitoring.

Yemen has been devastated by a civil war that began in 2015.  Last year in response to violence in Yemen, Pope Francis prayed that "this pointless slaughter will awaken consciences, lead to a change of heart, and inspire all parties to lay down their arms and take up the path of dialogue."

“The blockade needs to end to ensure that humanitarian supplies can get to people who are struggling every day just to survive,” O’Keefe said.


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.