CRS Appeals to World Leaders at UN General Assembly for Humanitarian Aid to East Africa

The leadership of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the humanitarian arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has appealed to the world leaders at the 77th United Nations (UN) General Assembly (UNGA77) to consider more humanitarian aid to the East African region.

In a statement addressed to the world leaders participating in the 77th UN General Assembly, the CRS Executive Vice President for Mission, Mobilization and Advocacy says that the war in Ukraine and climate change are among factors behind the worsening hunger situation in the East African region.

“While world leaders gather in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, countless families from East Africa … gather around their tables, only to find nothing to eat,” Mr. Bill O’Keefe says in the statement published Wednesday, September 21.

Mr. O’Keefe adds in reference to the worsening food crisis in East Africa, “Driven by the war in Ukraine, climate change and other factors, world hunger has skyrocketed at an unprecedented rate.” 

The CRS official says that alongside the worsening situation of hunger, the “humanitarian funding, which is one of the ways to provide food to large populations quickly, has fallen woefully short.”


He says Somalia and South Sudan are the most affected countries in the East African region, and adds, “We urge U.N. member states to address the situation by increasing their short and long-term support to food-insecure countries, especially those withering in the face of a warming planet.”

In his statement to the world leaders, the official of CRS recounts an ordeal from an Ethiopian woman who shared with CRS about the effects of hunger.

“The fuel of the human being is food – to stand, to walk, to work, even to speak. When I am hungry, my heart is tired. My stomach feels sick. I lose my ability to think or communicate. I lose my power. I can only sleep,” the Ethiopian woman said. 

In his statement, Mr. O’Keefe says in reference to the description of the woman, “Our time to act is running out for this woman and so many others. We know what we need to do. Now we must do it before it’s too late.”

In a September 5 report, the leadership of the overseas development agency of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, Trócaire, said Somalia is the most affected country in the East African region and warned of “a major humanitarian catastrophe” if action is not taken immediately.

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The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Catholic entity, Caoimhe de Barra, regretted the fact that many people had already died from hunger in the Horn of Africa countries in recent months and called upon the international community “to act now to avert a major humanitarian catastrophe.”

“It is now time for the international community to finally step up and prevent a devastating humanitarian catastrophe and the deaths of hundreds of thousands more people,” Ms. de Barra was quoted as saying.

She added, “What was predicted for months is coming to pass and we are on the verge of a famine being declared. This crisis has not come without warning from the humanitarian community and is a result of repeated failures to learn from the past.”

On August 14, Pope Francis drew the attention of the international community to “the serious humanitarian crisis” that the people of God in Somalia and the Horn of Africa nations are facing.

“I wish to draw your attention to the serious humanitarian crisis affecting Somalia and parts of neighboring countries. The people of this region, already living in very precarious conditions, are now in mortal danger because of drought,” Pope Francis said after leading the Sunday Angelus prayer at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square.


He appealed for support from across the globe, saying, “I hope that international solidarity can respond effectively to this emergency.”

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.