Information in this issue may be out of date. Click here to link to the most recent issue.

International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), founded at the request of Albert Einstein to assist opponents of Adolf Hitler, helps people fleeing racial, religious and ethnic persecution as well as those uprooted by war and violence. The IRC, with a staff from 40 countries, is a global organization. International institutions, governments and individual donors support the organization. Recently, the European Commission and individual European nations contributed substantial funding to assist IRC humanitarian aid projects.


Since 1933, the IRC has appealed to the world’s conscience by focusing attention on refugee issues. It emphasizes educating public policy-makers in the U.S. Congress, the United Nations and capitals around the world. IRC’s current advocacy priorities focus on increasing refugee admissions to the earlier level of more than 10,000 refugees annually.


Responding to refugee emergencies is an essential function of IRC. At the outbreak of an emergency, IRC rapidly delivers critical medical and public health services, shelter and food. In an emergency deployment responding to refugee flight, IRC emphasizes public health interventions that mitigate or interupt the preventable fraction of disease processes that lead to mortality and morbidity in newly displaced populations.

IRC maintains an Emergency Response Program (ERP) in order to strengthen its capacity to mount an effective and rapid response to the increasingly frequent and massive events that afflict people worldwide. Its program provides rapid assessments, planning and response. ERP also facilitates a pro-active approach to emergencies by reinforcing its systems of readiness in Program Administration, Financial Administration, Personnel Administration, Material Support and UN/IO/GO/NGO Coordination. Since its inception in October 1995, ERP has initiated emergency operations in Burundi, Liberia, the Congo, Chechnya, Panama, DR Congo, Sierra Leone, Congo-Brazzaville, Uganda, Guinea, Albania, Macedonia, Indonesia and Guinea-Bissau.


Under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of State, IRC resettles many refugees who qualify for entry into the United States and cannot safely return to their countries. IRC provides direct financial assistance to cover the initial cost of housing, food, clothing and transportation to those refugees resettling in another country. IRC staff members and volunteers also offer counseling, job placement, translation, community orientation, school referral and other direct services. While the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services pay for some initial support, other assistance depends upon IRC donors and volunteers. Through training, education and income-generating programs, IRC helps refugees acquire new self-sufficient skills. In 1998, IRC resettled 9,519 refugees.


The IRC believes that health is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity but also a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. By providing quality comprehensive health services, IRC is committed to promoting and improving the health of refugees and displaced populations throughout all phases of the disaster cycle. The IRC has a well-established history of providing health services to refugees and displaced persons.  IRC has initiated programs that include preventive and curative services, health promotion and rehabilitation.


Protection comprises both the physical safety and well-being of refugees and the guarantee of their legal and human rights. Traditionally, UNHCR and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have been responsible for protection issues; however, in an effort to provide more effective and consistent cooperation on these issues among all the agencies that serve refugees and to integrate protection issues fully into its own programs, the IRC established a protection team based in New York.

Contact Information
International Rescue Committee
122 East 42nd Street
New York, New York 10168-1289
Telephone: (212) 551-3000
Fax: (212) 551-3180