By Panos Navrozidis
International Rescue Committee country director in Greece

I first saw the picture of Alan Kurdi a few hours after it was taken. My immediate thought was that this could have been anyone’s son or daughter. The little blue shorts, the red t-shirt — this was a boy who was dressed for a journey. I remember asking the question: “If these powerful images of a dead Syrian child on a beach don’t change the world’s attitude to refugees, what will?”

One year, and countless devastating images later, I ask that question again.

A lot has changed in Europe…


Syrian refugees on the careers they left behind

Photo: Jodi Hilton/IRC

STRANDED LIVES

Part I: Forgotten faces | Part II: Newborn in squalor | Part III: Our jobs

In this series, Lucy Carrigan and Kathleen Prior from the International Rescue Committee document the plight of refugees trapped by border closings along the Balkan route.

They were professionals — teachers, mechanics, lawyers, hairdressers, police officers. Now, having fled their country’s catastrophic war, they must face a very different existence. Five Syrian refugees stranded in Idomeni on the northern border of Greece reminisce about the productive lives they once led as they wait to be relocated into Europe.

The Teacher |The Police Officer |The Hairdresser


A young Ethiopian boy drags a heavy container of water from a tap installed by the International Rescue Committee. Photo: Mulugeta Ayene/IRC

by Tyler Jump, IRC emergency communications officer

The average American uses 100 gallons of water a day — from the moment we awake and brush our teeth — to washing up after supper. We take this essential element for granted, but when water is scarce, daily life becomes an unimaginable grind. Eventually, dehydration and disease threaten existence itself. The weather phenomenon El Niño has decimated water supplies around the world. We’re witnessing a global water crisis so severe that even developed countries are struggling to meet their basic water needs. In Ethiopia, there is a frightening sense of déjà vu…


Video produced by the International Rescue Committee

George Clooney and his wife Amal Clooney spoke with Syrian refugee families living in Berlin last month. The meeting was organized by the International Rescue Committee. The refugees shared with the Clooneys what their life was like in war-ravaged Syria, the reasons they felt they needed to uproot their families, and their hopes for a better future in Germany.

“…There was shooting between the two sides. I sat in the corner and I got ready to die. Wissam and Judy, my children, were shaking. I hugged them and told them I didn’t want…


New Beginnings

Hamzah, left and his five-year-old son Abdullah fled the war in Syria and Iraq. Photo: Kathryn Rummel/IRC

The refugee crisis in Europe has captivated the world with stories of desperate Syrians and others making the journey through Turkey, across the Aegean Sea and into the continent in search of a more secure and prosperous life.

But this isn’t the first time we’ve witnessed waves of people displaced by war. Since its founding, the United States has offered freedom and opportunity to refugees fleeing the world’s most dangerous situations.

Below, in their owns words, refugees from Vietnam, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan who were resettled by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Northern California describe their plights, their dreams…


A daunting humanitarian crisis has gripped the world: 2015 draws to a close with the news that one million refugees and migrants from countries like Syria and Iraq that are experiencing relentless conflicts have fled to Europe for safety and a new start.

Every day, thousands of refugees are making the short, yet dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean and Aegean seas to southern Europe in inflatable rafts packed beyond capacity. The vast majority are landing on the islands of Greece.

Click on any of the photos below to read refugees’ stories from Greece that reflect a year full of suffering…


Photo: Tara Todras-Whitehill for the IRC

The horrific attacks in Paris by ISIS terrorists on Nov. 13 have sparked a dangerous backlash against refugees in Europe and the United States — particularly against Syrians, 13 million of whom have been uprooted by nearly five years of terror at home. Of the more than 600,000 desperate people who have fled to Europe so far this year, the vast majority are Syrians escaping war.

The U.S. has committed to welcoming 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016. This is not nearly enough to rescue those most at risk. …


Photo: Myrto Koutoulia/IRC

Virtually all of us have ties to people who have sought refuge in the United States over time — our ancestors, families, friends. There’s a simple reason for this.

The persecuted, the maligned and the forgotten have always found safety, peace and promise here. They have been welcomed and assimilated by those who came before them.

The International Rescue Committee knows this well. Since our founding in 1933, inspired by a refugee named Albert Einstein, we have been at the forefront of humanitarian action: for Europeans in the ’40s, Hungarians in the ’50s, Cubans in the ’60s, Vietnamese in the ’70s, Afghans in the ’80s, Rwandans in the ’90s and Sudanese in the ’00s. Today, we are providing refugees with shelter, health care, water, sanitation and education in 40…


What refugees bring when they run for their lives

Photo: Tyler Jump/IRC

This year, nearly 100,000 men, women and children from war-torn countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia have fled their homes and traveled by rubber dinghies across the Aegean Sea to Lesbos, Greece.

Refugees travel light, for their trek is as dangerous as it is arduous. They are detained, shot at, hungry. Smugglers routinely exploit them, promising safety for a price, only to squeeze them like sardines into tiny boats. Most have no option but to shed whatever meager belongings they may have salvaged from their journeys. …


By David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and Ravi Gurumurthy, the IRC’s Vice President of Strategy and Innovation

HUMANITARIAN AID and the people who provide it are on the front lines of crisis and conflict every day. From climate change to demographic pressures and new wars popping up in various corners of the world, the number of people fleeing their homes is now almost one million every month. We as the practitioners of the humanitarian sector must find innovative ways to solve the world’s worst crises. In an essay in the July/August issue of Foreign…

International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild. RT & Follow ≠ endorsement

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store