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Emergency response

Crisis Watch: Breaking news from the IRC

Last updated 

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) 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.

June 21, 2021

Child labor is on the rise in Syria

New IRC data shows the humanitarian situation in Syria is deteriorating as a UN Security Council cross-border aid vote nears.

Some 13 million people are currently in need of aid as Syrians are running out of options to meet basic needs, including food and water.

Child labor and early marriage are on the rise, as families are making decisions no family should have to make: 47% of Syrians interviewed reported that child labor is common in their area.

Read our findings


June 13, 2021

14 people killed in attack on Syrian hospital

A hospital in northern Aleppo supported by IRC partner SAMS was hit with explosive weapons on June 12, killing 14 people and injuring at least 11 others.

Four staff members of SAMS and another IRC partner organization, Shafak, were among those killed in the attack on Al-Shifaa Hospital.

This is the 11th attack on health care facilities in Syria that has been recorded so far this year.

Health facilities are protected under international law and should be safe havens in times of crisis, but after 10 years of armed conflict, this is not the case in Syria.

Read our statement.


May 13, 2021

Violence between Israel and Palestine escalates

The IRC is extremely alarmed by the escalating violence between Israel and Palestine where many civilians, including children and women, have been killed in fighting over the past three days. 

All parties must adhere to international humanitarian law, ensure the safety of civilians and agree to an immediate ceasefire. 

The IRC is not operational in these areas, but we are monitoring the situation closely.


May 12, 2021

What you need to know about the crisis in Myanmar

The sudden return to military rule in Myanmar has raised alarms about the future of the southeast Asian nation. Learn more in our Myanmar crisis explainer.

 

COVID-19 vaccine distribution largely concentrated in wealthier countries

 

Nearly 90% of all COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in high-income countries. This as we see cases surging in Thailand (170%), Yemen (24%), Cameroon, Venezuela (both 21%), and other countries affected by crisis.


February 18, 2021

Extreme weather in Texas

In the United States, Texas is experiencing extreme winter weather conditions, which have damaged the state’s independent power grid system causing widespread power outages.

Despite significant impact to staff, IRC staff in Abilene and Dallas have been in contact with refugee and asylum seekers to check in. One staff member even spent her first day on the job helping get refugees to shelters to stay warm.

Learn more about the situation on the ground and find out how you can help


February 8, 2021

New Ebola case in Congo


February 7, 2021

What is happening in Myanmar


February 5, 2021

"Fear for the future" in Myanmar

The sudden return to military rule in Myanmar has been destabilizing, and caused fear for the future. 

Myanmar’s steps towards a democratic transition had brought some progress and hope to a population affected by poverty and internal conflict.  The IRC is extremely concerned about the shrinking space for local civil society to organize and advocate peacefully on behalf of their communities, including those affected by conflict and disaster.

We have suspended most activities while we assess the situation, but we hope to resume delivering lifesaving aid as soon as it is safe to do so. Learn more about the IRC in Myanmar.


February 1, 2021

Military takes over in Myanmar

As the military takes power in Myanmar, the IRC is extremely concerned for the lives of the most vulnerable. We call on all leaders to refrain from violence and to ensure those most at risk are protected.

“Myanmar’s democratic transition had brought progress and hope, with opportunities to advance the wellbeing of the country as a whole," said Sanna Johnson, IRC regional vice president for Asia. "It is critical that this momentum is not lost."

The IRC has temporarily suspended operations in Myanmar while we assess the situation and hope to resume providing lifesaving aid as soon as it is safe to do so.

Read our statement.

Zimbabwe: Cyclone damage hinders fight against COVID-19

As Zimbabwe battles surging cases and deaths from COVID-19 amid fears of a new variant, tropical Cyclone Eloise has devastated COVID-19 mitigation and containment measures.

“The tropical storm, the spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths as well as the potential arrival of a new COVID-19 variant is endangering the lives of Zimbabwe’s population," said Zvidzai Maburutse, Zimbabwe country director for the IRC.  

The IRC is calling for more support for the people of Zimbabwe.

Read our statement.

Humanitarian situation in CAR deteriorates

Over 200,000 people have already been displaced as violence escalates in the Central African Republic (CAR). Nealy half have fled across borders causing additional strains and instability in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon.

Some 40% of the population is already in need of food aid, which is being hindered by attacks on aid workers and closure of a central supply route to the capital, Bangui.

“Humanitarian aid in CAR is at best disrupted, and at worst—under attack," said Kate Moger, IRC regional vice president.

The IRC calls for all parties to uphold international humanitarian law, commit to de-escalating the crisis and provide essential access to blocked supply routes.

Read our statement.


January 28, 2021

IRC teams respond in aftermath of Cyclone Eloise


January 12, 2021

Billions will not receive a COVID-19 vaccine in 2021

As high-income countries begin to roll out COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, there are increased concerns that billions of people will not receive the vaccine, putting the global community at risk of prolonging this pandemic and its devastating knock-on effects. Read our statement.


January 11, 2021

Yemen: U.S. designation "diplomatic vandalism"

On Jan. 11 the U.S. government designated Ansar Allah—the de facto state authorities controlling land that is home to 80% of Yemen's population—as a terrorist group.

The IRC fears the designation will hinder aid efforts as well as imports of food, medicine and other vital supplies, putting 24 million Yemenis at risk. We are calling on the U.S. government to reverse course immediately on this designation as the only way to save lives and avoid more suffering and death.

"This is pure diplomatic vandalism," said IRC president and CEO David Miliband in a statement. "After four years of a failed war strategy that has created the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe, the last thing the Yemeni people need is further interruption of aid and economic flows."

The IRC had already ranked Yemen as the top crisis in the world at risk of deterioration in 2021. Learn about our work in Yemen.

 


January 1, 2021

Famine risk grows in South Sudan

Rising food insecurity is pushing people into famine conditions in South Sudan, warned the IRC in a Jan. 1 statement.

The effects of years of conflict, an economic crisis, flooding and COVID-19 are forcing more people to go hungry as they lose their livelihoods and ability to feed their families.

According to the IRC’s 2021 Watchlist, the risk of famine will increase even more in 2021.

With more than 60% of the South Sudanese population facing food insecurity, the IRC is calling for a scale-up in international financial support and improvements in access for food assistance for South Sudan to prevent famine.


December 31, 2020

IRC launches info service for migrants in Mexico

The IRC is officially launching InfoDigna—an interactive map that connects migrants in Mexico to shelters, health care providers and other services—to those we serve in the country. Edith Tapia, who coordinates the effort, told AP News that InfoDigna, “meets people where they’re at.” 

InfoDigna is part of Signpost, a project by the IRC and partners like Mercy Corps, Google, Microsoft, Twilio, Cisco, Trip Advisor and Box, that uses social media and digital platforms to get critical information to people affected by crisis.


December 24, 2020

Fire destroys camp in Bosnia

The IRC is concerned for the safety of around 1,300 refugees who risk being made homeless as Lipa camp, a temporary reception center in Bosnia and Herzegovina, faces closure in the wake of a devastating fire.

Some 3,500 people are already sleeping out in the open amid heavy snowfall along the border with Croatia, as a result of transit and reception centers in the country being overcrowded. Read our statement.


December 22, 2020

Iraq's "shadow pandemic" of domestic violence


December 18, 2020

Resurgence of locusts in Ethiopia raising hunger levels

The resurgence of the worst invasion of desert locusts in Ethiopia’s history is raising hunger levels amidst continued conflict in the Tigray region and the COVID-19 pandemic, where Ethiopia faces the highest number of cases in the Horn of Africa. Read our statement.


December 16, 2020

IRC lists top 20 crises to watch in 2021

The IRC has released our 2021 Emergency Watchlist, a global list of humanitarian crises that are expected to deteriorate the most over the coming year. The triple threat of conflict, climate change and COVID-19 is driving the crises in nearly all Emergency Watchlist countries, threatening famine in several in 2021. 

The most dangerous humanitarian emergencies of 2021 are nearly all neglected, long-running crises like Afghanistan, Syria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo that remain highly volatile after years or decades of crisis.

"Watchlist 2021 should serve as a wake-up call for policymakers, government leaders, and concerned citizens around the world about the cost of neglecting humanitarian crises—and how they urgently need international attention," said IRC president David Miliband. 

Read more about the top 10 crisis countries on our list and then take a deeper dive into the crisis that has ranked first for three years running

The Emergency Watchlist draws on 85 quantitative and qualitative measures, including insights from the IRC’s 30,000 staff and volunteers in over 40 countries globally. For IRC analysis of all 20 countries in our list, along with our recommendations for global leaders, download the full 2021 Emergency Watchlist report.  


December 15, 2020

IRC condemns attack that killed 28 people in Niger

 


December 3, 2020

IRC urges global action on COVID-19

The IRC is calling for truly global COVID-19 action and a global ceasefire ahead of the United Nations General Assembly session on the pandemic. Said IRC president and CEO David Miliband, “This virus will not be beaten anywhere until it is beaten everywhere. This is why it is so critical that crisis-affected countries and populations are not left out of a global response to COVID-19."  Read his Dec. 3 statement.


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.