Around the world, a record 68.5 million people are uprooted by violence and persecution. In 2018 alone, we have seen desperate families who fled violence in Central America reaching the U.S. border in caravans. We've seen the Trump administration continue to pull back the nation's welcome back from refugees and asylum seekers. We've seen Syrians struggle to endure a civil war that has lasted more than seven years. And we've seen the conflict in Yemen spiral into the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Since 1933, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has been helping people whose lives are shattered by conflict and disaster. In these, the most-read stories we published on this year, IRC experts answer your questions about the year's humanitarian headlines:

Migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants: What’s the difference?

Every day, people around the world make the difficult decision to leave their countries in search of safety and better lives. We explain who they are.

Photo of Central American asylum seekers traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border at night.
Central American asylum seekers traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Photo: Getty Images

7 things you need to know about the horror in Syria

Aid workers describe how seven years of war in Syria have taken a catastrophic human toll and created one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time. 

Syrian civilians run for cover after a bomb hits Eastern Ghouta in the suburbs of Damascus.
Syrian civilians run for cover after a bomb hits Eastern Ghouta in the suburbs of Damascus.
Photo: Abdulmonam Eassa/AFP

How immigrants and refugees become U.S. citizens

The application process to become a U.S. citizen can take a year or longer. IRC experts explain how U.S. immigration and naturalization work.

Mulu Bahre at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore
Mulu Bahre, born in Eritrea, became an American citizen in January 2016, six years after the IRC resettled his family in Baltimore.
Photo: Keith Lane/IRC

Families seeking asylum from violence in Central America are not criminals

Since 2014, families have fled from rampant gang violence and other forms of persecution perpetrated in Central America. We explain why they have a right to seek asylum.

Why is Yemen the world's worst humanitarian crisis?

The war in Yemen is contributing to what the United Nations says could become "the worst famine in the world in 100 years."  We look at why 22 million people need aid.

A health worker at an IRC-supported clinic in Sana'a, Yemen, measures a young boy's arm to confirm he is suffering from malnutrition.
The U.N. warns that Yemen could soon be in the grip of famine, with 12-13 million civilians at risk of starvation. The measurement tape around this boy's arm indicates he is malnourished.
Photo: Kellie Ryan/IRC

Isolated airstrikes won’t save Syrian lives: what Trump can do to help

After the U.S. and its allies launched airstrikes in Syria following a suspected chemical attack on civilians on Apr. 7, the IRC advocated for three other options to save Syrian lives.

Syrian boy in underground bunker by the stairs
Many families in Eastern Ghouta moved underground into cellars and bunkers, to try to stay safe during months of bombardment.
Photo: Abdullah Hammam/IRC

Stop public charge changes that harm immigrant families

We look at an Oct. 10 Department of Homeland Security policy change proposal that would make it much more difficult for immigrants to build new lives in the the U.S.

Refugee clients participate in programs inside the IRC office in Boise.
The proposed expansions to the definition of a public charge would put the health and wellbeing of millions of immigrant families at risk.
Photo: Jonathan McBride/IRC

Americans agree—it's time to stop fueling the war in Yemen

With half Yemen's population on the brink of starvation, a recent IRC-comissioned poll shows that Democrats and Republicans are united in their desire to end U.S. support to fueling conflict.

Children play with their friends in front of their home in Al Buraiqeh, a village on the outskirts of Aden, Yemen.
Across the country, 85% of Yemenis have been left without basic health care.
Photo: Kellie Ryan/IRC


The Venezuelan crisis explained in 10 objects

What do economic and political chaos look like? We asked Venezuelans who are seeking safety and a new start to show us their lives.

Photo: Iris V. Ebert/IRC

Why Central Americans join the caravan: ‘because there’s no scarier place than home’

An IRC aid worker in El Salvador describes the horrors that have been forcing individuals and families to flee to the U.S. border in caravans for protection.

A Honduran migrant couple and their five kids taking part in a caravan heading to the U.S., wait to cross the border from Guatemala to Mexico
A Honduran migrant couple and their five children, part of a caravan heading to the U.S., wait to cross the border from Guatemala to Mexico.
Photo: ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images