International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Children and Youth

Girls, Afghanistan
Photo: Peter Biro/IRC

War, conflict and natural disaster inflict a terrible toll on children and the young. The International Rescue Committee works with communities to protect children from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence and to nurture and develop their potential through innovative education, livelihoods and skills-training programs. Children and youth are extraordinarily resilient. By supporting the next generation we are helping to build healthy and productive societies in the future.

How We Help

  • The IRC provides counseling and services to young people who have experienced disease, abuse, exploitation or loss and separation from their families.
  • IRC “child-friendly spaces” provide the youngest victims of war and natural disaster with a safe place to play, participate in structured activities and to heal from trauma and loss while rebuilding a sense of normalcy.
  • The IRC trains educators, constructs classroom, and supports schools that are attended by hundreds of thousands of children.
  • We provide skills training to young people who have had their education or careers interrupted by war or natural disaster. More than half of those who receive such training are girls.

Wartime Parenting

Read the new report produced with our partner Without Violence (June 2015)  

Learn more about the IRC’s work with children and youth

Today, some 30 armed conflicts rage around the world, with children and youth suffering disproportionately.  In the violence of war, children are murdered and wounded. They are abducted, used as soldiers, suffer sexual abuse and risk life threatening illness.  They lose parents, friends and communities in conflict and during mass flight. Young people are compelled to take on adult roles, protecting and providing for younger children. Children lose opportunities to learn, and are denied the structure, stability and predictability they need to develop their potential. They ultimately lose their sense of trust and hope for the future.

Currently 20 million children and adolescents are uprooted from their homes either as refugees or internally displaced persons. In order to respond to this, the IRC promotes the protection and development of children and youth, from the earliest stages of an emergency, through post-conflict and recovery.

In over 20 countries, the IRC’s community-based, participatory and holistic children and youth programs include:

  • Formal and non-formal education
  • Registration, emergency care, tracing and family reunification of separated children
  • Interim care, rehabilitation and community reintegration of former child soldiers
  • Psychosocial care and protection
  • Life skills, recreational and cultural activities, economic and leadership development for youth

Building on over 80 years of experience, IRC’s programs help protect and nurture 350,000 young people in over 20 countries worldwide.