NGO: International Rescue Committee

History:  In 1933, the European-based International Relief Association (IRA) opened an American branch at the urging of then-spokesman Albert Einstein to aid Germans suffering under Hitler.  In 1942, the IRA merges with the Emergency Rescue Committee, an agency originally formed to help European refugees in France.  The merger formed the International Rescue Committee.  The IRC since then has been operating relief and rescue as well as resettlement programs for people worldwide from Indochina to Sierra Leone to Afghanistan to Chile.

Mission:  The International Rescue Committee serves refugees and communities victimized by oppression or violent conflict worldwide.  The IRC is committed to freedom, human dignity, and self-reliance.  This commitment is expressed in emergency relief, protection of human rights, post-conflict development, resettlement assistance, and advocacy.

– Emergency Response Unit:  Conducts assessment, plans & implements emergency response, acts as headquarters to IRC staff in the field during times of emergency. Especially sensitive to public health risks and issues specific to women and children in emergencies.

– Post Conflict Development Initiative: Good Governance, Civil Society and Community Reconstruction:  putting together infrastructure, restoring social balance and confidence to rebuild.

– Socio-Economic Reconstruction:  Improving health, education, public infrastructure.  Link to grassroots in community. Strong emphasis is on community participation, partnerships, inclusion, development and social cohesion after emergencies.

– Refugee Protection:  Specifically concerning legal rights and protection.  The UNHCR and the ICRC can no long continue to carry out their legal and protection mandate without the active cooperation of the NGO’s with whom they work.  In 1989, the IRC founded the Women Commission for Refugee Women and Children, a group that advises law makers on policy to protect and empower refugee women and children.

– Resettlement:  In offices across the US, IRC helps refugees by teaching job readiness and employment skills, English classes with one-on-one tutoring available, and support and advocacy for refugees.  All services are free of charge, funded by volunteers & donations.

– Refugee Advocacy:  The IRC also holds interest in policy making.  The Goal of the Reproductive Health Response in Conflict (RHRC) Consortium, developed by the IRC, is to increase access to a range of quality, voluntary reproductive health services for refugees and displaced persons around the world.

Interesting facts:  Included as Board of Directors’ members are Elie Weisel, Henry Kissinger and Skip Burkle

University of Hawaii at Manoa; Center of Excellence in DMHA; ICRC

Contact Information

Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
2424 Maile Way, Saunders Hall 118
Honolulu, HI 96822