Catholic Relief Services has assigned three alumni of Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy and Development (IPED) to assist in their response to the continuing humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic. Catholic Relief Services is expanding their presence during the current crisis.
Whitney Wilding, IPED Class of 2011, Joseph Kelly, IPED Class of 2004, and Erin Lewis, IPED Class of 2013 were all Arrupe Fellows who specialized in International Development Studies with an emphasis on project management and assessment.
Wilding is based in the Central African Republic; Kelly and Lewis are on temporary duty assignments in the Central African Republic. Normally, Kelly would be based in Jordan and Lewis in Burundi. Kelly is the 2013 winner of Fordham’s Swanstrom-Baerwald Award for his previous work with Catholic Relief Services in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
According to Henry Schwalbenberg, Ph.D., professor of political economy and director of the the graduate program in international political economy and development, the Central African Republic is currently in crisis. The conflict, which began in December 2012, has worsened over the past year. Following a coup in March 2013, violence escalated in December 2013, forcing people to flee their homes and resulting in over 750,000 internally displaced people country-wide. Chaos and fear have ruled the Central African Republic for months. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes for fear of being attacked. And they are living in crowded and unsanitary conditions in makeshift camps, exposed to the elements. Many have seen family members, friends and neighbors killed.
Catholic Relief Services is working with its partners in Central African Republic on an emergency response that will provide food and other critical assistance to thousands of families displaced by violence. CRS is also working with religious leaders and inter-religious youth groups to promote messages of peace and reconciliation.
Catholic Relief Services is the official relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.