International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Photo Essays

Woman in Ban Mae Surin health clinic
Man and woman with mosquito nets
Baby at health clinic in Ban Mae Surin
Children at Ban Mae Surin
Burn victim from Ban Mae Surin camp fire
Spouses playing tug of war in Ban Mae Surin camp
Women at domestic violence awareness session
Woman and counselor at IRC's women's psychosocial care center
Girls at workshops in Ban Mae Surin camp
Girls reading newspapers at IRC resource centers in Ban Mae Surin

Burmese refugees healing from fire tragedy

Emergency Response, Health, Thailand

On March 22, 2013, a fierce fire swept through the Ban Mae Surin camp for Burmese refugees in northwestern Thailand. The disaster killed 37 people and left 2,300 homeless, over 75 percent of the camp’s population. 

The IRC’s medical clinic, women’s shelter and other facilities were destroyed. Immediately after the disaster, IRC teams started to rebuild, resuming vital health, psychosocial, women's protection, and legal services. Now, a little over a year later, and with continued support from the IRC, Ban Mae Surin’s population is slowly healing from the tragedy.


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A South Sudan soldier on patrol
South Sudan displaced survive in makeshift shelters
A makeshift camp on the outskirts of Ganyliel in South Sudan.
South Sudanese mother prepares a meager dinner.
Many South Sudan towns a inaccessible during the rainy season.
Lifesaving care for a South Sudan child suffering malnutrition
Lifesaving care of a malnourished girl in South Sudan
Displaced children from South Sudan at play
Clean water is scarce in South Sudan

Visit a South Sudan town devastated by conflict and hunger

Emergency Response, Food, Health, South Sudan

Ethnic conflict in South Sudan has killed thousands and disrupted daily life, leaving nearly 7 million at risk of hunger and 3.7 million facing starvation, according to the UN. The IRC’s Peter Biro visited the town of Ganyliel in the north of the country where thousands of people have fled the fighting—and have been reduced to eating water lilies, roots and grass to survive.

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A seated refugee woman being treated for malaria in a Tham Hin clinic
A refugee mother lies with her newborn next to her in Tham Hin refugee camp
A refugee baby is weighed on a hanging scale in Tham Hin refugee camp
A woman feeds a refugee child a bowl of food in in Than Hin refugee camp
An IRC medic extracts an infected tooth from a refugee patient's mouth
A refugee health care worker examines a femaile patient in Than Hin refugee camp
IRC medics routinely conduct home visits to provide health and hygiene awareness, as well as to follow up on any illness in the household.
A clinic staff member tests a refugee boy for malaria in Tham Hin camp
A lab technician in Tham Him refugee camp looks through a microscope
Water is a precious commodity in the camp—especially during the scorching dry season. The IRC provides every camp resident with 11 gallons (43 liters) of drinking water per day. The water is stored in large tanks where it is chlorinated and tested regularly for bacteria.
A girl fills water containers at Tham Hin refugee camp
A counselor with the IRC program speaks to a refugee suffering from depression
A woman washes clothes in an IRC-built laundry area in Tham Hin refugee camp
Teens gather for an IRC workshop at Tham Hin refugee camp

Refugees in limbo on the Thailand-Myanmar border

Health, Asia, Thailand

For more than 25 years some 150,000 refugees from Myanmar (Burma) have been living in nine official camps on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Most have fled ethnic conflict, human rights abuses, and economic deprivation in Myanmar.  Although Myanmar has seen major political and economic reforms in recent years, refugees  are reluctant to return home while political and ethnic conflict remain unresolved and  job prospects are few.

In Thailand, refugees have no legal right to work and cannot leave the camps. As a result, they are dependent on services provided by aid organizations like the IRC, which has been working in the camps since the early 1990s. 

Tham Hin, where these photographs were taken, is an isolated camp that straddles the Myanmar border in western Thailand. It is home to 6,500 people. The International Rescue Committee is the camp’s sole provider of health care and drinking water.

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Eighty percent of those fleeing persecution, conflict or natural disaster are women and children.
"A while ago, there was a woman in my neighborhood that had to have a C-section. I wanted to be able to help her and other women like her. That was when I decided I was going to become a surgeon.” -  Rosine, age 13, Vision Not Victim Project, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo: Meredith Hutchison/IRC
In refugee camps along the Thailand-Myanmar border, the IRC provides women with free prenatal care and supplies medical care and birth certificates to their babies, helping to ensure they have a safe and healthy start to life.
Angel, in a blue headscarf, oversees the election of new leaders for an IRC-supported women’s group in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Participants, including survivors of violence and other vulnerable women, can access education and livelihoods support, and help drive community infrastructure projects. Photo: Lynsey Addario/VII
In Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, as many as 70 percent of farmers are women. Across the United States, the IRC’s New Roots program enables resettled refugees from these regions and elsewhere to use their agricultural skills to nourish themselves and their neighbors through community gardening.
Following record floods in Pakistan in 2010, the IRC provided women with training to become tailors. These women now sew clothing for neighbors in their villages and play an active role in rebuilding their communities.
IRC volunteer Rania (center) speaks with a fellow refugee at Jordan's Zaatari camp, home to some 120,000 people fleeing conflict in neighboring Syria. Rania meets with as many as 50 families per week, mostly women and children, helping them to access essential services in the camp. Photo: Peter Biro/IRC
The threat of sexual assault follows women long after they flee conflict or disaster. IRC staff provide individual emotional support and medical care to survivors and work with communities to address the roots causes of violence against women.

She's First


Explore how the IRC is helping to protect and empower women and girls: We provide lifesaving critical care during humanitarian emergencies. And in the aftermath of crisis, we offer empowerment programs to help women and girls rebuild their lives, families and communities — and thrive over the long term.

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IRC food rations loaded on a truck
An IRC food shipment is unloaded
Loading food aid onto boats
Patrick Sautron on his mobile phone, overseeing the food shipment
A truck carries IRC food aid in Syria
Children with IRC food aid in Syria
Woman with IRC food ration
A young girl smiles for the camera
A Syrian woman with IRC food aid

Despite challenges, some food arrives for hungry Syrians

Syria Crisis, Syria

It's taken months to accomplish, but the International Rescue Committee expects to complete the shipment of thousands of boxes of food aid to Syrians in the northern part of the country next week. Aid agencies like the IRC continue to face immense challenges to both getting aid into Syria — and once it's there — to reach those in the most need. As IRC President and CEO David Miliband pointed out in this Washington Post OpEd recently,"The Syrian people are facing a blockade. They are under siege."

The IRC had initially intended to provide our first direct shipment of food aid to hungry Syrians last September, but due to politics and shifting front lines both at borders and within Syria, the IRC only completed the distribution of monthly food rations this week. The IRC's Ned Colt follows the journey in this photo essay. (Published Feb. 6, 2013)

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Tents make up this informal Syrian refugee settlement in northern Lebanon
Syrian children fill containers with water at an informal settlement.
Refugee woman cooking over an open fire.
Syrian refugee children at a settlement in Lebanon
IRC staff collect information
Families at an urban refugee settlement in Lebanon

Reaching Syrian families

Syria Crisis, Lebanon

A small piece of plastic is making a big difference in the lives of Syrian families in desperate need of aid. Learn how the IRC is using ATM bank cards to provide support to Syrian refugees scattered in communities across Lebanon.

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Ten-year-old Moussa was found on the streets of Konna, Mali in June 2012.
Oumou Kone found Moussa on the streets.
Moussa and Oumou’s five-year-old daughter, Ramatou Cissé, walk to school
A crammed classroom, common throughout Mali.
A child stands in a village affected by fighting in Mali
Bullet casings left behind by combatants in Konna, Mali
Fatoumata Maiga washes clothes with her younger sister in a river in Mali.
A bowl of food is served in Konna, Mali, where food is scarce after the fighting
Tradespeople offload trucks at the market in Konna, Mali
The French Tricolor flag hangs from a government building in Konna, Mali.
Soumba Traoré, an orphan, relaxes on a mat in Daban, Mali.
Malian landscape:Large swathes of northern Mali are desert or semiarid regions.

Mali: Safe havens for children

Children & Youth, Africa, Mali

Since conflict began in Mali in January 2012, nearly 500,000 people have fled their homes. The majority are children and teenagers. Some, like 10-year-old Moussa (in white), have forgotten where they came from. Traumatized, abused and abandoned, they must fend for themselves. Fortunately for Moussa, he has been given a new lease on life. 

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Children stand among tents in a camp for displaced Syrians
Children in a tent at a camp along Syria’s northeastern border
An elderly woman sites on the ground at a camp for displaced Syrians
Children in a tent classroom at a camp for displaced Syrians
A young girls jump-ropes at a camp for displaced Syrians
A disabled boy plays with a toy truck at a camp for displaced Syrians
A health worker examines a young girl at Syrian clinic
A father and son receive medicine from a health worker at an IRC clinic.
A doctor examines an elderly woman with a stethoscope in a Syrian clinic
Two men help dig a water system in a camp for displaced Syrians
Men toss emergency supplies from a truck to handlers on the ground
Children carry boxes of supplies at an IRC distribution center in Syria

Photos: Inside Syria

Syria Crisis

More than four million people have been displaced within Syria by a bloody civil war now entering its third year. The IRC's Peter Biro took these photos illustrating what life is like for uprooted families and what the IRC and our Syrian partners are doing to help. 

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A woman wrapped in pagne cloth sits with a child on a mat
A woman spoon-feeds her child
A refugee receives an IRC emergency kit for women
A woman signs for a kit using ink and her fingertips
Smiling in her thatched shelter, a woman holds up her kit
Two women carry emergency kits distributed by the IRC
A woman holds a flashlight from her new emergency kit

Emergency kits for women

D.R. Congo

Tens of thousands of women and girls have been forced to flee fighting in North Kivu, Congo, during the past few months — often without time to pack any personal belongings. They shelter in precarious conditions in camps with almost no privacy.

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The IRC supports refugees fleeing from violence in Syria with emergency aid
Syrian children have missed years of school, have suffered severe trauma
Women line up to receive emergency aid of warm blankets; Camps are cold, crowded
Ahmed Dahoud El-Masri, injured in the Syrian crisis, recovers on a hospital cot
Refugee barber cuts a client's hair in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan
A nurse checks Halima's blood pressure at an IRC clinic in Mafraq, Jordan
Syrian refugees outside tents in Domiz camp in Iraq
Ethnic Kurd refugee children from Syria in the Domiz camp in Iraq
A refugee girl tries to keep her baby brother warm in a blanket in Domiz, Iraq
Five Syrian refugee children pose for a photo at Domiz Camp in Iraq
Syrian refugees fill water jugs with clean drinking water in Domiz camp, Iraq
Syrian refugee Jihan Bakar and her children in their tent in Domiz camp, Iraq
Syrian refugee women and girls knit at an IRC women's center in Lebanon
Hind Al-Hujairi paints a henna pattern on a Syrian woman in Lebanon
These refugee children live in one small room with eight other people in the Leb
Syrian refugee Assaa Abdallah and his son in their room behind a Beirut shop

Disaster for uprooted Syrians

Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria

More than two years after the start of what has become a full fledged civil war, the crisis in Syria threatens the entire Middle East with a humanitarian disaster. It is estimated that more than four million Syrians are now in dire need of assistance and that some two million people have been uprooted and displaced. Photographs and text by Peter Biro

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