Global Emergency Template

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Catholic Relief Services is pleased to share the highlights of our key emergency response and recovery activities, as well as the most urgent humanitarian needs—and opportunities for global impact. This work is possible thanks to the generous support of private and public donors, the dedication of our local partners, and the unwavering presence of Caritas and the Catholic Church.

Europe, Middle East and Central Asia

Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has killed and injured thousands of people and has forced millions to flee their homes, either to relatively safer areas of the country or to neighboring countries. Throughout Ukraine, people are facing shortages of food, shelter, water and transport, as they suffer increasing trauma and loss. Many of those fleeing spend days waiting in lines in freezing weather, with small children and elderly family members. To date, more than 3 million people have fled to neighboring countries including Poland, Moldova, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.

Years of conflict along the eastern border had already displaced people from their homes and claimed 14,000 lives. Throughout this time, Caritas Ukraine, with support from CRS, has been providing emergency relief and recovery.

CRS is supporting our Caritas partners in Ukraine with a range of support, including:

  • Field kitchens that provide hot meals.
  • Reception services at Caritas offices, train stations and other locations, providing displaced people with clothing, information, referrals, food, water, hygiene items and counseling support.
  • Transportation of displaced families to friends,
  • Families and local social services.
  • Evacuation centers providing shelter, food, emotional care, case management and child-friendly spaces.
  • Recruitment and training of volunteers to pack kits and assist at Caritas centers.
More than 3 million people have fled from Ukraine to neighboring countries including Poland, Moldova, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.

Moldova

With CRS support, Caritas Moldova has been providing food and relief items to refugees at government-run reception centers and has established three accommodation centers in the capital. Caritas plans to establish a further five centers, and priorities include:

  • Mobilizing transportation of refugees from the border, and providing them with information.
  • Providing accommodation, food and counseling support.
  • Activating host community support to provide vacant properties for refugee families, and to bring such properties up to minimum standards of accommodation.

“It's hard to watch what is happening. Women and children arrive crying, scared and disoriented. They don't know where to go.”

Valeri Perov
Moldovan Volunteer

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Mahamudoff Gazym’s family has been sleeping in their car in a dirt parking lot for days. They are among the thousands of Ukrainian refugees who have crossed the border at Otaci, Moldova. “My little grandchildren asked me who was making the sound of bombs and I didn’t know what to tell them,” Mahamudoff says.

Photos by Schimbator Studio for CRS/Caritas Moldova

Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has killed and injured thousands of people and has forced millions to flee their homes, either to relatively safer areas of the country or to neighboring countries. Throughout Ukraine, people are facing shortages of food, shelter, water and transport, as they suffer increasing trauma and loss. Many of those fleeing spend days waiting in lines in freezing weather, with small children and elderly family members. To date, more than 3 million people have fled to neighboring countries including Poland, Moldova, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.

Years of conflict along the eastern border had already displaced people from their homes and claimed 14,000 lives. Throughout this time, Caritas Ukraine, with support from CRS, has been providing emergency relief and recovery.

Romania

With CRS financial support, Caritas dioceses have mobilized volunteers, equipped facilities, and are operating reception and accommodation centers at three border crossings in the north of the country. All centers are at capacity, serving hundreds of refugee families crossing the border. Caritas diocesan offices near the border have also organized day centers for hundreds of refugee children. All ongoing activities in Moldova and Romania are funded by CRS and local contributions.

Poland

Caritas Poland is providing assistance to arriving Ukrainians at border crossing points. CRS is helping them to prepare a cash assistance program with the UNHCR to be scaled up to reach an estimated 300,000 families. In coordination with the Polish government, Caritas is providing shelter to refugee orphans in existing care homes.

Caritas Poland and Caritas Moldova are also organizing cross-border shipments of humanitarian supplies into Ukraine.

Afghanistan

Rural farming families across the country are suffering from unprecedented levels of hunger and malnutrition. This food crisis is primarily due to the worst drought in living memory, and is exacerbated by a financial crisis following the Taliban takeover, as well as waves of COVID-19. Catholic Relief Services has worked with remote farming communities in many of the most drought-affected areas for years and has firsthand experience of the devastating impact of the current crisis.

Farmers report severely reduced harvests of wheat and potato—two important staples that feed families through the extremely cold winters.

An estimated 22 million people, including young children, are already experiencing hunger and facing life-threatening food shortages. In the areas where CRS works, farmers report severely reduced harvests of wheat and potato—two important staples that feed families through the extremely cold winters. High rates of acute malnutrition are reported across 16 provinces, where people are adopting extreme coping strategies, such as selling their livestock and other assets, and leaving their villages to seek assistance or work as day laborers.

With a continued presence and commitment across the country, CRS is uniquely positioned to provide urgent assistance to the most drought-affected rural communities. Since the end of the decades-long war, security and community access have improved greatly across Afghanistan.

CRS has resumed activities across all provinces with the approval of local authorities. Community-based education classes and education-related field activities with both male and female staff have resumed. CRS is carrying out assessments to increase its reach in remote and underserved areas that were previously inaccessible due to conflict.

CRS programming to date:

  • Conducted more than 800 community-based education classes, and supported schools with winterization kits so they could stay open during the winter. This support is vital in a country where 40% of children do not have access to education.
  • Distributed emergency cash to about 40,000 rural Afghans in some of the most remote and drought-afflicted areas. This enables families to buy food and other essential items. Some communities had not received support in more than 20 years due to lack of access.
  • Conducted technical assessments in more than 120 communities across its target provinces and is developing detailed plans for water system rehabilitation and construction, to ensure access to clean water.
  • Conducted livestock trainings for 2,431 farmers in Daikundi and Bamiyan provinces, and will soon complete planning for fodder and feed distribution to 2,650 farming families.
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Security and community access have improved, allowing CRS’ community-based education classes to resume.

Photo by Nikki Gamer/CRS

Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza

The Gaza Strip is home to more than 2 million people who have endured the devastating impacts of an air, land and naval blockade for 14 years. In May 2021, this already vulnerable population endured an intense conflict, resulting in devastating humanitarian consequences for civilians, including widespread damage to infrastructure, homes and schools.

The recurrent conflict has had an equally damaging impact on the well-being of Gazans, particularly children and caregivers. It is estimated that more than 198,000 children and 242,000 adults in Gaza are in need of counseling and social services.

Since May 2021, more than 60,000 highly vulnerable Gazans have received humanitarian assistance from CRS to meet their priority needs. CRS has supported more than 2,250 vulnerable people to repair or rehabilitate their partially or severely damaged homes. A gender-sensitive approach ensures all family members are actively involved in defining their priorities and managing their repairs.

CRS has also scaled up its counseling support to families. Besides immediate psychological first aid after the conflict, adolescents have completed weekly sessions on well-being, including emotional regulation, listening and interpersonal

communication. Their parents attended sessions on stress management and positive parenting. More than 6,000 people have shown increased well-being after this support. CRS has also continued a large-scale response to the COVID-19 pandemic, working with four clinics and a hospital in Gaza to mitigate the spread and impact of the virus. CRS partnered with Caritas Jerusalem, with mobile medical teams making home visits to families exposed to COVID-19, providing medical screenings, supplies, messages about how to stay safe, and follow-up support through a hotline. A total of 80,000 people in Gaza have received this assistance.

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Alaa’ and Yafa and their family in front of their destroyed home in Gaza. CRS cash assistance enabled them to buy hygiene and food items in the early days of their displacement.

Photo by Mohamed Alrefi for CRS

East Africa

Across Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan, drought, flooding and diminishing crops have compounded a crisis facing millions of vulnerable people. CRS is providing urgent assistance tailored to the needs and context of the affected countries.

Across the region, the hunger crisis is affecting millions of vulnerable people, especially children, and pregnant and new mothers.

South Sudan

Years of conflict along the eastern border had already displaced people from their homes and claimed 14,000 lives. Throughout this time, Caritas Ukraine, with support from CRS, has been providing emergency relief and recovery.

Kenya

The drought—combined with ethnic conflict, and pasture and crop destruction by locust swarms—has led to migration, and a devastating depletion in pasture and water for livestock. The nutritional status of children is deteriorating, with a reported 541,662 children under age 5 suffering from acute malnutrition. Of these, 140,993 children have required lifesaving treatment. CRS has supported the rehabilitation of government water infrastructure by providing equipment, pumps, fuel and community maintenance, and has provided:

  • Cash assistance and vouchers to enable families to buy critical food and living supplies, and boost income to cover basic needs.
  • Nutrient-rich agricultural seeds, training and support for farming and crop production.
  • Feed and support for livestock health — including vaccination, deworming, training on rangeland and pasture production.
  • Cash-for-work activities.

Southern Africa

Madagascar

Cyclone Batsirai, which made landfall in Eastern Madagascar on February 5, caused devastation particularly in the Mananjary area on the southeastern coast, resulting in 121 deaths and the displacement of 61,500 people. At least 112,100 people have been affected. With wind gusts of up to 143 miles per hour, the cyclone damaged bridges, roads, warehouses, crops and an estimated 11,000 homes. Some 1,895 schools were also damaged, affecting 134,000 students.

61,500
People have been displaced by Cyclone Batsirai.

The storm comes after years of severe drought have wiped out harvests and hampered people’s access to food in the Grand South region. Of the 10 hardest-hit districts, Amboasary Atsimo in the south is at the epicenter, with nearly 14,000 people at catastrophic hunger levels. The situation, and the delay in international support, has caused people to migrate out of the south, and is creating rapid environmental degradation of original dry forests, known for their unique biodiversity.

More than 309,000 children under age 5 in Grand South will likely suffer acute malnutrition through April 2022. Of these, more than 60,000 are severely malnourished. In response to Cyclone Batsiri, CRS is providing:

  • Immediate food and shelter assistance for 200 people in Mananjary.
  • Cash assistance to 15,000 people.
  • Rapid provision of basic services, such as health care, and education in school tents.
  • Installation of generators and support for local Hospitals in Mananjary.
  • Accompaniment of families to safely repair their houses.
  • Emergency shelter and food assistance for 6,000 people.

Long-term recovery efforts will prioritize the repair and rebuilding of homes through cash assistance, food assistance, medical care, protection services and livelihoods recovery.

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An aerial view of the town of Mananjary, Madagascar, in the aftermath of Cyclone Batsirai.

Photo by Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis/Alamy

Malawi and Zambia

On January 24, Tropical Storm Ana struck Madagascar, Malawi and Zambia with high winds and torrential rains, leaving at least 80 people dead and affecting an estimated 193,558 families. In recent years, the region has been repeatedly struck by severe storms and cyclones, which destroy homes, infrastructure and crops, take lives and displace large numbers of people.

CRS will rebuild homes and livelihoods, and strengthen the resilience of affected communities.

In Malawi, some areas were already experiencing floods. CRS is supporting its partners there to provide emergency shelter and living supplies, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene kits. CRS is planning a larger recovery effort to rebuild homes and livelihoods, and to strengthen the resilience of affected households and communities.

In Zambia, flooding in the Southern Province has damaged houses and health facilities, and affected bridges and other infrastructure. Livestock have also been lost. CRS priorities for support include food, water and sanitation, and shelter repair.

CRS has reached 118 families with relief supplies, water treatment for clean drinking supplies, water storage containers, blankets, and hygiene items.

There will be a subsequent, increased need for recovery support to rebuild livelihoods, and to strengthen the resilience of affected households and communities.

West Africa

Niger

Niger’s western region, Tillaberi, is facing a serious humanitarian crisis. Since 2012, the area bordering Mali and Burkina Faso has experienced armed conflict by non-state armed groups. As a result, people have been forced to abandon their homes and crops, leading to deteriorating livelihoods and nutrition, and increasing prices of staples such as millet, sorghum and maize.

Tillaberi is hosting more than 100,000 internally displaced people, and an estimated 889,281 people are experiencing severe food insecurity. A CRS assessment found that 71% of households mentioned food insecurity as their most -experienced shock in the past 12 months, while 72% cited agriculture as their main revenue source. These families deemed livelihoods and agricultural production support as most vital.

CRS in Niger is planning a food security program funded by the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance in the communes of Ayerou, Dessa and Ouallam. It aims to improve livelihood options through cash-for-work and unconditional cash transfers, and by providing vulnerable households with access to quality agricultural inputs and training for improved staple crop production and market gardens. Ahead of the anticipated program, CRS will provide food vouchers for three months to 1,200 vulnerable households in these communes.

CRS is working with the other humanitarian actors and participating in humanitarian coordination meetings led by the United Nations. CRS is also planning to partner with Caritas Développement Niger, which has long experience in the intervention zone and technical expertise in food security.

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Internally displaced people receive cash assistance in Ayorou, Tillaberi, during CRS programming in 2020.

Photo by Hadjara Laouali Balla for CRS

Central Africa

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Some 26 million people in the country are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity. The country has the largest number of highly food insecure people in the world as a result of conflict, economic decline, high food prices and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. CRS is responding with emergency assistance and has supported 63,146 people to date this year. This includes urgently needed food, water and sanitation, and vital household items through direct distribution, cash assistance and vouchers to vulnerable and underserved families.

CRS emergency assistance includes urgently needed food, water and sanitation, and vital household items.

Central African Republic

In a country where one in three people are displaced, 63% of the population are expected to be extremely vulnerable this year, including 2.2 million with acute needs. The number of people in need has risen by 16% since last year and is expected to continue rising due to armed conflict, an economic recession, endemic diseases, and the COVID-19 pandemic1. With 691,791 internally displaced people, 75% of whom live with host families, communities are struggling to meet their basic needs for food and water, health care and shelter. Nine out of ten Central Africans reported using negative coping strategies to survive in the previous month, and seven out of ten reported constant concerns for the safety of their loved ones2. Sexual and gender-based violence is the largest security risk for women and girls, with rates of reported cases rising by 30% since 20203. This precarious situation is compounded by the fact that at least 2.4 million people are likely to need emergency food assistance for survival in 20224.

In the year to date, CRS has responded to the urgent needs of 44,839 people affected by flooding and political violence, with nearly $900,000 in cash assistance to increase household food security, and seeds and tools to support household gardening. More than 515,000 people have also benefitted from CRS-led interventions to prevent COVID-19 transmission. In the coming months, CRS will distribute 738 tons of food to households suffering from moderate to severe food insecurity, and will also provide or improve shelters for more than 1,200 households.

1. U.N. Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan: Central African Republic.
2. Ibid.
3. UNHCR. Monitoring de Protection. Analyse trimestrielle juin - aout 2021. September 2021.
4. Ibid.

Asia

Philippines

Families and communities are still recovering from the devastation caused by Typhoon Rai, which made landfall on December 16. With windspeeds of up to 160 miles per hour, the typhoon affected 8.2 million people, nearly 80,000 of them still taking refuge in crowded evacuation centers. At least 405 people died during the storm. The most damage to homes occurred during storm surges in coastal areas.

1.3 million
Houses are damaged, and another 359,595 were destroyed.

While many people are returning to their homes, 1.3 million houses are damaged, and another 359,595 were destroyed. Many people are facing a severe reduction in income due to damaged boats and crops. CRS and Caritas Philippines are providing emergency relief in Southern Leyte and Surigao del Norte provinces, two of the hardest-hit areas. Long-term plans for recovery will focus on the repair and rebuilding of homes and infrastructure, rehabilitation of water systems, and livelihoods recovery. Efforts to date include the following:

  • Emergency shelter: Distribution of emergency shelter kits, tools and essential household items to 748 families.
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene: Distribution of water and hygiene kits to 748 families, complemented by hygiene messaging by parish volunteers.
  • Supply of four water tanks, and support for their installation, operation and maintenance.
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A fishing community damaged by Typhoon Rai along a shoreline of Leyte Province.

Photo by Xinhua/Alamy

Myanmar

A year after a military coup, the country has experienced escalated attacks and an erosion of the economy. According to the United Nations, more than 800,000 people have been displaced from their homes, many seeking refuge in camps on the grounds of religious compounds. With humanitarian access to those in need in conflict zones restricted due to insecurity, the role of the Catholic Church and Caritas has been critical in providing emergency relief.

With humanitarian access restricted due to insecurity, the role of Catholic Church and Caritas has been critical in providing emergency relief.

CRS has worked in Myanmar for more than 10 years and is supporting its local Caritas partner, Karuna Mission Social Solidarity, to construct emergency shelter at safe settlement sites, provide water and sanitation infrastructure, and distribute cash assistance to families. CRS works closely with KMSS on technical support in areas like nutrition, nutrition-sensitive agriculture, gender, monitoring and evaluation, cash programming, peacebuilding and trauma resilience, and community-based shelter.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Haiti

On August 14, 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the southern peninsula of Grand Sud, with the epicenter 80 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Two days later, a tropical depression passed over the same area, exposing earthquake-affected families to further hazards and complicating search-and-rescue efforts. More than 2,200 people lost their lives and more than 12,000 were injured. The crises destroyed more than 53,915 homes, and severely damaged a further 83,770. Tens of thousands of people were displaced throughout the area. Businesses and public infrastructure—such as hospitals, schools and bridges—suffered significant structural damage or collapse.

Even before the earthquake, the people of Haiti had been dealing with increasingly limited access to nutrituious food and clean water due to ongoing drought.

Even before the earthquake, the people of Haiti had been dealing with increasingly limited access to nutritious food and clean water due to ongoing drought, as well as escalating political and economic instability.

CRS’ long history of programming in the Grand Sud departments of Sud, Nippes and Grand’Anse means it is well-positioned to respond. CRS is helping people meet their immediate needs for relief and long-term recovery. Activities to date include:

Food and Living Supplies

  • Provided 9,500 families with cash assistance to buy food and critical supplies.
  • Provided 9,500 families with living supplies, including tarps, bedding and hygiene items.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

  • Provided 1.7 million gallons of clean water through temporary water treatment systems for six communities.
  • Trained 2,000 families on hygiene, including the safe collection, transportation and storage of water.
  • Provided 9,500 families with cash assistance and water purification tablets to treat water at home.

Emergency Shelter

  • Provided 4,271 families with shelter kits and technical support for safe construction.
  • Relocated 600 families to safer areas, and provided grants and vouchers for food and hygiene kits.
  • Tested, contracted and trained 18 mason supervisors, 18 household trainers and 90 installation teams in six communes.

Counseling, Social Services and Well-Being

  • Trained 30 community leaders and community health workers in psychological first aid.
  • Referred 450 people to counselors for anxiety or trauma counseling.
  • Carried out information campaigns on mental health and post-traumatic stress that have already reached 1,000 people.
  • Constructed temporary learning spaces at three schools, and repaired or rebuilt four others.
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CRS provided 9,500 families with cash assistance to buy food and critical supplies.

Photo by Georges Harry Rouzier for CRS

Central America Migrant Crisis

The rising number of migrants seeking safety and livelihoods beyond their own country has led to escalating humanitarian needs. Increased deportations to Haiti and the Mexico - Guatemala border have exacerbated the crisis. The Guatemalan and Mexican governments have increased patrols of migration routes and have established checkpoints. Often, people are deported to places where there are no government or civil society organizations to provide support.

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CRS provided 9,500 families with cash assistance to buy food and critical supplies.

Photo by Georges Harry Rouzier for CRS

Local faith-based shelters continue to be the first responders to this crisis. With limited financial resources—and with the support of volunteers, parishes and local communities—they offer migrants a place to sleep, bathe, eat and receive medical care and other services. These shelters have had to scale up services to four times their normal capacity.

CRS continues to support migrant shelters along the Mexico-Guatemala corridor, and is increasing support for these partners, to provide urgent, quality social services. Shelter staff reports that it frequently receives small groups of migrants in dire need of assistance after they have taken isolated routes far from humanitarian networks. These migrants are also especially at risk from criminal groups.

CRS and our partners respond swiftly to meet the needs of those returning to their communities of origin with limited belongings. Priority needs for migrants, and the shelters that support them, include food, counseling and social services, legal advice, information about COVID-19 prevention, hygiene supplies, and COVID-19 testing. Since January 2021, CRS has supported 31 shelters to serve 127,928 migrants.

Empower1 Project

Venezuela

Since 2015, the country has been in a social and economic crisis. As much as 87% of the population lives below the poverty line and thousands of children are malnourished. More than 5.6 million Venezuelans have left the country. COVID-19 has led to further marginalization of refugees in host countries. Thousands have had to return to Venezuela, having lost access to shelter and livelihood opportunities in neighboring countries due to COVID-19 restrictions and stigmatization.

5.6 million
Venezuelans have left the country, putting pressure on neighboring countries such as Aruba, Colombia, Curacao, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago.

In Venezuela, CRS has supported Caritas Venezuela with the following:

  • Evaluated the nutrition of 24,140 childrenunder age 5, and 7,399 women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Of these, 4,817 children have acute malnutrition, and receive weekly rations of therapeutic or supplementary food.
  • Medically treated 64,226 people, and provided 721 people with counseling and social services.
  • Distributed deworming tablets to 11,925 people.
  • Distributed thousands of COVID-19 prevention hygiene kits, food kits and water filters.
  • Organized 1,932 community kitchens, serving 161,002 people.
  • Provided cash assistance or e-vouchers worth $4.8 million to 11,513 families, helping them to buy food and other critical supplies.

Colombia

In the last few months, the country has witnessed a dramatic increase in violence, which affects both Colombians and Venezuelan migrants who have sought refuge there. The Arauca department bordering Venezuela is one of the hardest hit, with regular clashes for control over the territory. CRS has supported Caritas Colombia’s assistance to Venezuelan migrants to provide:

  • Health services.
  • Legal aid services.
  • Legal assistance to access public health care.
  • Psychological first aid.
  • Emergency shelter assistance.
  • Transportation subsidies.

Brazil

EMPOWER supported Caritas Brasileira to plan the distribution of cooked meals to more than 6,000 migrants at the Brazil–Venezuela border. Caritas is assisting Venezuelans living on the streets and in shelters. CRS is also supporting Caritas Brasileira programming across the states of Acre, Rondônia, Para, Piaui and Roraima, and has provided:

  • Access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities for 6,069 people.
  • Critical information about hygiene practices to 2,016 people.

1. EMPOWER, for Empowering Partner Organizations Working on Emergency Responses, is a CRS project promoting the leadership of humanitarian response by local organizations that have nationwide coverage.

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2023 Urgent Priorities – Catholic Relief Services is pleased to share our perspective as we anticipate the most urgent humanitarian needs—and opportunities for global impact—in 2023. Our work is possible thanks to the generous support of private and public donors, the dedication of our local partners, and the unwavering presence of Caritas and the Catholic Church.

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2022 Impact – Catholic Relief Services is pleased to share highlights of our emergency response and recovery activities of 2022. Our work is possible thanks to the generous support of private and public donors, the dedication of our local partners, and the unwavering presence of Caritas and the Catholic Church.

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