CRS Responds to Crises Around The World – This is the latest report on Catholic Relief Services’ ongoing emergency response and recovery activities around the world. Our work is possible thanks to the generous support of private and public donors, the dedication of local partners, and the unwavering presence of Caritas and the local Catholic Church. This month, there is a particular focus on the Holy Land. This region has been affected by protracted conflict, violence, and instability, resulting in widespread suffering and displacement. CRS, in collaboration with local partners, is supporting efforts to provide lifesaving aid and long-term assistance to the most vulnerable communities there.
Global Emergency Update December 2022
Global Emergency Update: 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.
CRS reached more than 69 million people in the first two years of our global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with targeted, tailored support specific to the local context and vulnerabilities of communities. Comprehensive CRS programming continues to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, strengthen the capacity of local health responders, and assist extremely vulnerable families and communities. CRS has been working closely with partners and local government officials in several countries to adapt humanitarian and development projects to the COVID-19 context. Priority areas for programming continue to include vaccine rollout support, and assistance for communities to manage and recover from the long term impacts of the pandemic on their livelihoods and food security.
Comprehensive CRS programming continues to help prevent COVID-19, strengthen the capacity of local health responders, and assist extremely vulnerable families and communities.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, more than 7 million people have crossed the border into neighboring countries, while 6.3 million people are displaced within Ukraine. Many families have lost loved ones or witnessed loss of life. CRS is supporting our Caritas partners in 10 countries to aid displaced Ukrainians and refugees with comprehensive assistance to meet their immediate needs as well as with longer term solutions. Priorities for support include cash assistance and shelter. Significant repairs are needed to make homes livable and restore essential services so families can face the cold winter months.
Ukraine Response: Notable areas of impact this year
Poland: CRS has supported Caritas Poland with cash assistance, a data management platform for use across 20 dioceses, and technical assistance for case management, counseling and other support.
Slovakia: Through Caritas Slovakia’s 25 refugee support centers, more than 13,422 refugees received household goods donated by the local community, hot meals, language classes, vouchers for supplies, child care, counseling, linkages to jobs, and safe accommodation. CRS has also supported Caritas Slovakia in its voucher program, and monitoring and evaluation systems.
Hungary: With CRS support, Caritas Hungary continues to operate its refugee reception centers near the Ukraine border. To date, it has provided 8,465 refugees with assistance, including food, water, a place to rest, information and referrals. At least 2,865 refugees have been accommodated at Church facilities, with host families mobilized through the parishes, or with rental assistance. These families have also received vouchers for food and hygiene items.
Croatia: CRS supported Caritas Croatia to provide shelter to 794 people, vouchers for 850 families, and counseling and other well being activities for 198 people.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: CRS provided vouchers for all Ukrainian refugees in the country.
Moldova: CRS has provided more than $600,000 in cash assistance to 1,600 families who have taken in refugees. Also, CRS and Caritas Moldova have provided cash assistance to 82,000 refugees, hot meals to 2,884 people in accommodation centers, and vouchers for food and hygiene supplies to 21,000 families.
Romania: CRS is supporting Caritas Romania to run five centers that serve 408 refugee families with vouchers to buy food and supply kits, as well as with information and referrals, legal and psychological counseling, and language classes. Caritas Romania has also supported 292 children with online education and language classes.
Bulgaria: CRS has supported Caritas to expand its operations, bringing the total number of integrated support centers to eight and providing a variety of case management, accompaniment and cash assistance services to promote refugee integration. To date, Caritas Bulgaria centers have helped 1,046 people with cash assistance and other support.
Ukraine: CRS partners Caritas Ukraine and Caritas Spes together supported 3.7 million people with food, shelter, medicine, living supplies and counseling. Caritas Spes provided more than 254,965 nights of shelter; distributed over 2.12 million meals; provided 68,00 people with medicine; and helped 2,200 adults and children access counseling and other support.
On August 14, 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti’s southern peninsula followed by a tropical storm that passed over the same area just days later. More than 2,200 people lost their lives. The crises destroyed 53,815 homes, severely damaged 83,770 more, and left businesses and public infrastructure devastated.
In the first year of our emergency response efforts, CRS and our partners reached 41,500 families with the following:
- Emergency relief: 9,500 families received cash assistance to buy food and living supplies.
- Safe shelter: 15,000 people received tarps and shelter repair kits; 1,250 families received assistance to relocate to safer areas; families received assistance to repair their homes; and 300 local masons were trained in disaster-resilient construction techniques.
- Water, sanitation and hygiene: 25,000 families received clean water through solar powered treatment systems, and more than 2,000 families were trained on hygiene practices.
- Livelihoods and communities: Farmers learned improved agricultural practices at six farmer field schools, and 105 people received training on community led disaster risk management.
- Emotional support: 2,400 people received training on the signs of mental distress and where to seek mental health care services; 28,391 people were reached through information campaigns on mental health and post traumatic stress; and 128 community leaders and health workers received training in psychological first aid.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
A humanitarian crisis has been escalating in North Kivu province, where months of violent clashes between armed groups and the Congolese army have displaced thousands of people. Insecurity across the region has paralyzed socioeconomic activity and severely limited the delivery of emergency services.
A reported 234,488 people have been internally displaced since March. Displaced families have sought refuge in churches and schools, while thousands live in camps with poor sanitation and limited resources.
“CRS is growing increasingly alarmed by the deteriorating security situation, forcing people to flee their homes, negatively impacting their health and livelihoods.“
Tens of thousands of people have fled into neighboring Uganda. Families on both sides of the border urgently need substantial support for food, water, essential household items and shelter. The lack of food is reported as the most dire concern. The lack of global attention may lead to an unchecked escalation of the regional crisis.
In partnership with Caritas Goma—and in extremely challenging contexts—CRS is providing emergency supplies, such as sleeping mats, jerry cans, wash basins, cooking pots and clothing, to more than 3,800 families affected by the armed conflict in Rutshuru Territory. CRS plans to expand our support for food, water, sanitation and hygiene, health, psychological and other counseling assistance, and enhanced social cohesion.
People have been internally displaced since March. Displaced families have sought refuge in churches and schools, while thousands live in camps with poor sanitation and limited resources.
Meanwhile in Uganda, CRS and Caritas Kabale are supporting refugees with shelter and latrines, as well as hygiene items for 500 extremely vulnerable families, reaching over 4,500 people.
Tropical Storm Ana led to heavy rains and deadly flooding across Zambia in January 2022. Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe were also heavily affected. Homes collapsed, crops were submerged, livestock were swept away and water systems were contaminated. Many people lost their livelihoods, and their sources of food and income were destroyed. CRS provided emergency relief and recovery support across the most affected areas in all countries, including water treatment, cash assistance and shelter repair. In Zambia, achieving sustainable, lasting solutions is imperative for communities affected by cyclical flooding.
CRS worked with the Zambia Government Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, Caritas and local Church partners, and the Red Cross, on the design of a safe, dignified resettlement area. Of the 205 families affected by the tropical storm, 165 families agreed to resettle on the newly identified land. CRS supported the development of the resettlement area, in collaboration with the local authority and affected communities. CRS also provided families with tools, iron sheeting, cement and other resources to build safe homes. The resettlement program incorporated trainings in water, sanitation and hygiene; climate smart agriculture; and microfinance.
CRS provided emergency relief and recovery support, including water treatment, cash assistance and shelter repair.
In August 2021, the Taliban takeover led to a political and economic crisis compounded by severe drought and the deep wounds left by decades of violent conflict, widespread chronic poverty and underdevelopment. More than 2.6 million Afghans have fled the country and another 5.5 million people are internally displaced.
Meanwhile, with the end of long-standing conflict in the country, many displaced Afghan families are expected to return home. In 2021, an estimated 750,000 undocumented people returned from neighboring countries. This influx has strained local health care and education systems, as well as other public services. Conflict has left many families displaced and impoverished, but the war’s end also means it is possible to reach previously inaccessible communities with emergency recovery and long-term development interventions.
CRS operations have continued since the recent government transition. In November 2021, CRS began distributing emergency assistance to help 7,500 families meet their critical needs and has reached 45,500 people to date across Herat, Ghor, Bamiyan and Daykundi provinces. CRS will complement this lifesaving assistance with measures to build the resilience of families and communities and mitigate negative coping strategies. CRS is also supporting multigrade classrooms in the central highlands of Afghanistan.
People have been reached with CRS emergency assistance across Herat, Ghor, Bamiyan and Daykundi provinces.
INVESTING IN LOCAL LEADERSHIP
Government, Church and civil society organizations are often the first to respond to crises, and are present in affected communities before, during and after emergencies. With the increased frequency and complexity of emergencies, CRS is expanding our critical support to local partners to assist communities during crises.
Launched in July 2018, the CRS EMPOWER approach—for Empowering Partner Organizations Working on Emergency Responses—seeks to strengthen the humanitarian response capacity of local partners by providing accompaniment and support in diverse areas, including business development; program management; monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning; finance; supply chain management; and protection and safeguarding. EMPOWER is an extension of CRS’ decades-long commitment to strengthening the capacity of our partners. The approach is specific to the humanitarian emergency context, with three areas of strategic focus:
- Coordination: Local partners strengthen their participation in coordination platforms at the local, national and regional levels.
- Institutional strengthening: Local partners strengthen their institutional capacities and organizational structures to better manage humanitarian responses.
- Funding: Local partners access and implement a greater percentage of humanitarian funding.
CRS’ long standing commitment to local partnership is timely. In May 2022, the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance pledged 25% of USAID direct funding—up from 6.2% in 2021—to local civil society, business and other institutions over the next four years.
In 2016, the World Humanitarian Summit brought significant attention to localization, which resulted in the Grand Bargain—a commitment from the largest humanitarian donors and aid organizations, including CRS, to ensure national and local partners are involved in decision making processes in any humanitarian response.
CRS partners engaged in the EMPOWER approach led responses to significant emergencies in the past year, including Hurricanes Ian and Fiona in Cuba and the Dominican Republic; the compounded impacts of COVID-19; and migrant and food security crises across the Caribbean, South and Central America and Mexico. Also, eight partners directly accessed $24 million for their emergency response programming—80% of that from U.S. government donors—since EMPOWER began in 2018.
Of USAID direct funding is pledged to local civil society, business and other institutions over the next four years.
In emergencies, marginalized individuals and groups—including women, children, older adults, people with disabilities, and minority religious or ethnic groups—often face heightened risks and barriers to accessing support.
In 2021, CRS launched an 18-month global project to strengthen the capacity of local organizations to integrate protection in disaster risk reduction, preparedness and response. Called PrEPD, for Preparing for Enhanced Protection in Disaster Response, the project is supported by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, and will deliver a comprehensive toolkit to guide humanitarian and disaster risk reduction actors as they work to mainstream protection and accountability into disaster preparedness interventions. CRS is piloting the PrEPD intervention in the Philippines, Sierra Leone and Uganda—involving 10 organizations and benefiting at least 45,000 people.
In another disaster risk reduction initiative, CRS organized an event in the Philippines this year with 59 civil society organizations, to recognize locally led DRR and management approaches in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Through CRS trainings, we learned the importance of consulting our community to develop risk reduction plans.”
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