NEW YORK CITY — The International Rescue Committee has been on the front lines of relief efforts for global humanitarian crises since 1933. The American branch of the European-based IRC was founded at the request of Albert Einstein, who saw an opportunity to provide support for Germans suffering under Hitler’s power.
For over 80 years, the organization has responded to every imaginable disaster, helping communities of people around the world survive, recover and rebuild their lives. Today, the IRC’s international headquarters is in New York City, but the organization maintains offices in 22 regional cities across the United States. These locations are in place to help refugees settle in the U.S. and become self-sufficient.
The IRC also works with unaccompanied children who arrive at the U.S. border from Central America. The IRC’s mission is to provide dignity and hope for these U.S.-based displaced refugees.
Additionally, the IRC’s contingent in Georgia expects six Syrian refugees who fled their country in 2012 to arrive this weekend in Atlanta. The IRC will be on hand to help them resettle in the Atlanta area.
The IRC’s role overseas takes on a much larger, more complex shape, particularly with regard to emergency response relief. When disaster strikes, the IRC arrives on the scene, ready to deliver rapid, lifesaving aid.
The IRC’s International Response Committee is made up of 17 specialists with the expertise necessary to provide critical solutions in response to disaster. This team—comprised of coordinators, logisticians, doctors, water and sanitation experts—is always on standby, ready to provide relief within 72 hours of an emergency.
From violence in Darfur to drought in Mali, the world has come to rely on the IRC. Emergency response is one of IRC’s globally-renowned strengths, but its impact does not stop at its response to disaster. The organization recognizes that there is disaster and emergency in the daily lives of communities in developing countries and that those situations warrant response as well. For the 250 million children worldwide who cannot read, for example, the IRC works to train educators, construct classrooms and support schools.
For the 219 million people who are affected by malaria each year, IRC health teams provide vaccinations and health care on the ground within developing communities. Behind the front lines of disaster and emergency relief, the IRC also employs a steady stream of volunteers and workers who are committed year-round to not only rescuing and rehabilitating communities but also simply improving them. IRC’s environmental health programs provide 4.4 million people with access to clean water and sanitation.
The IRC also works with farmers, entrepreneurs and apprentices to enhance their business skills, thereby increasing income, job prospects and quality of life. In 2013 alone, the IRC provided 13 million people with reproductive and primary health care. The organization vaccinated over 276 million children and gave 1.4 million people clean drinking water. It provided 725,000 boys and girls with education opportunities that they would not have otherwise received.
By providing legal and resettlement support, counseling and financial services, the IRC works to help and care for almost every component of human life. For every $1 that the IRC spends, over 90 cents goes directly toward refugees or to communities affected by war and disaster.
Consistently ranked as one of the top charitable organizations in the world for efficiency and quality, this is an organization that is worth following and supporting. The IRC needs all of the donations and backing it can get as it continues to extend a hand to millions of people each year.
– Elizabeth Nutt
Sources: AJC, UNICEF, UN, International Rescue Committee
Photo: The Global Journal