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Emergency response

Crisis Watch: Breaking news from the International Rescue Committee

Last updated 

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and gain control of their future. Read the latest crisis updates from our teams around the world.

November 30, 2020

110 killed in massacre in Borno, Nigeria

November 28, 2020

500,000 at risk as violence in Mekelle, Ethiopia escalates

  • With loss of civilian life and mass displacement, the cost to 500,000 people living in Ethiopia's Tigray region could be devastating. 
  • Ethiopia is already reeling from a year of multiple disasters, including locust outbreaks, severe flooding and the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • It is imperative that all sides protect civilians and allow impartial humanitarian assistance to reach those in need.
  • The IRC is working in Tigray to support 90,000 refugees in four camps with a range of services, including clean water, sanitation, primary health care and education.

Read our backgrounder on the crisis

November 23, 202

Humanitarian needs in Afghanistan skyrocket

  • Afghans are caught in one of the deadliest conflicts for civilians. There have been 6,000 civilian casualties in the first three quarters of 2020 alone. 
  • Fourteen million people are in need of aid—a 55% increase since 2019—and women are disproportionately affected.
  • The IRC is calling on world leaders to increase humanitarian funding and push for peace.

Read a statement from our country director in Afghanistan.

November 20, 2020

How to bring Yemen back from the brink of famine 

  • Yemen is teetering on the brink of famine with over 80% of the population in need of humanitarian assistance.
  • The IRC is calling for world leaders to release pledged humanitarian funds and to support a recovery package for Yemen’s beleaguered economy.
  • We are also calling on leaders to  use their diplomatic leverage—including a suspension of arms sales—to push for a nationwide ceasefire, and bring parties to the conflict to the negotiating table to reach a political settlement. 

Read a statement from our country director in Yemen.

November 16, 2020

IRC calls on Biden to commit to global COVID-19 response 


November 12, 2020

Hunger crisis for refugee families in Jordan

Jordan: As COVID-19 cases surpass 120,000 in Jordan, Syrian refugees are struggling to feed their families. Some refugees say they have resorted to searching through trash for food.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the IRC has received triple the number of calls to our aid hotline than we did throughout 2019. Most calls have come from women who were their family's main breadwinner until they lost their jobs.

Hear from Syrian refugees and the IRC's Jordan country director.

Baby dies in dangerous Mediterranean crossing

November 11, 2020

COVID-19: spreading unchecked in NW Syria?

IRC calls for immediate de-escalation in Tigray

November 10, 2020

More than a vaccine needed to defeat COVID-19

COVID-19: As the world struggles to deal with the fallout of the pandemic, the needs of the most vulnerable must not be neglected or forgotten. To defeat the coronavirus anywhere, we need to defeat it everywhere. The world has felt the absence of U.S. leadership during the pandemic. The Biden Administration must lead by example through fast and flexible financing to front-line humanitarian responders, global coordination to ensure supplies and help get to the people who need it most, and global leadership to secure ceasefire agreements to reach people in need. 

Even with the promising news of a possible breakthrough in a vaccine, these actions are critical. The Biden Administration should look to committing at least $20 billion to fighting the virus around the world. No single solution will return us to normality—not even a vaccine—if the response is not truly global.

Learn more: What does a Joe Biden presidency mean for the world's most vulnerable people? 

November 9, 2020

In Afghanistan, COVID-19 hits women hardest

Afghanistan: COVID-19 has taken a toll on all Afghans—but women have been disproportionately impacted. Read the findings of a new report from UN Women and the IRC.

November 7, 2020

U.S. election called for Joe Biden: what this means for refugees

The American people have spoken: the U.S. presidential election has been called for former Vice President Joe Biden. His victory follows four years of Trump Administration policies that have been devastating for refugees, asylum seekers, and other people fleeing crises. 

Read our explainer: What does a Biden presidency mean for refugees and asylum seekers?

November 6, 2020

U.S. election: Every vote must be counted

Growing hostilities in Tigray, Ethiopia

More Venezuelans crossing into Colombia

November 5, 2020

Schools targeted in Cameroon attacks

Tensions rise in Ethiopia's Tigray region

Ethiopia: The IRC is extremely concerned about escalating tensions and hostilities in the Tigray region, where many refugees, displaced people and local communities are reeling from a year of multiple humanitarian disasters. The COVID-19 pandemic, massive flooding and a desert locust outbreak destroying crops have led to an increasingly dire humanitarian situation and increased food insecurity. Read our statement.

Aid worker killed in South Sudan attack

November 4, 2020

The impact of climate change on humanitarian crises

What's at stake for refugees in the U.S. election

Refugees in America: As we await a result of the 2020 United States election, the votes of all Americans must be counted. This includes refugees and other new Americans who have undertaken courageous journeys to become U.S. citizens, for whom voting in elections has deep meaning and significance, and who have the right to rely on their voice being heard through mail-in voting.

Two humanitarian workers killed in Idlib shelling

Syria conflict: Today, our thoughts are with our partner Ihsan Relief and Development, which tragically lost two members of its staff in artillery shelling on the town of Arihah in northwestern Syria. All parties to the conflict in Syria must abide by international humanitarian law: Civilians must be protected and should never be targets.

The violence has been escalating recently, and across Idlib, today’s shelling has led to six additional fatalities, including four children. At least 10 other people have been wounded. Further deaths must be prevented and the ceasefire upheld. We urge all parties to abide by it.

November 2, 2020

UN members to vote on cross-border aid needs

Syria conflict: The IRC urges the 193 member states of the UN General Assembly to vote to support a resolution to reauthorize two border crossings closed in the last year that are essential to aid provision in the region.

Read a statement from IRC president and CEO David Miliband.

October 29, 2020

COVID-19 "infodemic" spreads in crisis areas

COVID-19 pandemic: The IRC is extremely concerned about the spread of COVID-related misinformation across the crisis-affected countries where we work. The IRC has noted a rise not only in misinformation—such as health advice that is inaccurate—but also disinformation—such as deliberately deceptive propaganda with malintent linked to the pandemic. The IRC is concerned that unless responders are able to engage with communities and gain the trust of populations, this infodemic will imperil an already tenuous pandemic response, impacting the world’s most vulnerable. 

Read our COVID-19 misinformation explainer.

Why are people risking their lives to cross the English Channel?

The tragic drownings of four people, including two children, with a third reported missing, demonstrates the increasingly desperate and dangerous decisions that people are being driven to make in their search for safety. 

Nearly four times as many people have arrived in the United Kingdom in small boats this year compared to 2019. A growing number of people risking their lives to cross one of the world's busiest shipping lanes in small dinghies is a clear sign of desperation.

Learn more from the IRC in Europe.

October 28, 2020

President Trump sets historic low refugee admissions goal

Refugee resettlement: President Trump has set the refugee admissions goal at just 15,000 refugees for fiscal year 2021, an all-time low for the third year in a row. Additionally, restrictions were placed on resettlement from Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

The average refugee admissions goal before the Trump Administration was 95,000. The IRC is calling for the administration and Congress to restore America’s historic commitment to welcoming people in need of a safe haven.

Why should the U.S. accept more refugees?

October 27, 2020

Half of Nagorno-Karabakh's population displaced by conflict

An IRC team is on the ground assessing the needs in response to the violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. More than 300 people have died in the conflict, between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and more than 70,000 are displaced. 

Stay tuned for updates.

October 22, 2020

Knock-on effects of COVID-19 have led to a global hunger crisis

Malnutrition: A new analysis by the IRC finds that the number of children receiving treatment for malnutrition has decreased across conflict-affected countries, despite more people going hungry globally, indicating that lifesaving treatments have been less accessible to families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.


October 21, 2020

Parents of 545 separated children still can't be found

Asylum in the United States: Reports have emerged that the parents of 545 children separated from their families at the U.S. border by Trump Administration policies have not been found.

Your questions answered:

  • Is it legal to cross the U.S. border to seek asylum? Yes. Families seeking refuge at the U.S. border have the right to request asylum without being criminalized, turned back, or separated from their children.

What you can do:

Learn more: Find out how the Trump Administration is working to end asylum.

Donate now: Help the IRC support families in crisis areas like the Mexico-U.S. border with a monthly gift.

October 20, 2020

Civilian deaths increase 1,870% in Africa's Sahel

IRC statement: The IRC is alarmed by the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the Central Sahel states of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger as a military response fails to stop violence. We are calling for more humanitarian funding and better access for aid groups to people in need.

In figures:

  • In 2019, civilian deaths in the region rose by a staggering 1870% compared to 2016, with civilian deaths linked to militias increasing by 8,500% in just four years.
  • A record 13.4 million people are in need of humanitarian aid across the region—a nearly 60% increase since January in the wake of COVID-19 and escalating conflict. 

How the IRC helps: The IRC has been working in the Central Sahel since 2012, reaching communities in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso with clean water and sanitation, education, health care, economic livelihoods support, emergency support and protection.