International Rescue Committee (IRC)

The IRC in the Democratic Republic of Congo

IRC staff member speaks with displaced woman in shelter in Goma, Congo
Photo: Sinziana Demian/IRC

Congo is the world’s least developed country in terms of life expectancy, education, standard of living and key health indicators, like maternal and child mortality. Following years of economic and political decline, the war of 1998-2002 led to extreme violence, massive population displacement and widespread rape. Despite several formal peace agreements, violence continues in eastern Congo, causing loss of life and uprooting families. The state is unable to provide protection and basic services to its people, who continue to suffer from poverty and neglect.

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How We Help


  • The IRC provides emergency assistance to hundreds of thousands of people in eastern Congo.
  • The IRC works with local organizations and helps survivors of sexual violence with counseling, medical care and legal assistance. 
  • The IRC empowers communities to identify their own development needs and design and manage their own recovery projects, such as schools and health centers. 
  • The IRC trains health and government workers, rehabilitates and constructs hospitals and clinics, and provides essential drugs.
  • The IRC trains thousands of teachers and enables almost 500,000 children to access basic education in safe schools.



A study carried out by the IRC and our research partners indicates that group therapy has dramatically reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder among women survivors of sexual violence in Congo.



A series of landmark and peer-reviewed studies by the IRC and some of the world’s leading epidemiologists conclude that an estimated 5.4 million people died from conflict-related causes in  the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1998 and 2007. The vast majority were not killed in combat. Most tragically died from malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition — easily preventable and treatable conditions when people have access to health care and nutritious food.