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International Rescue Committee (IRC) Refugee, Staff & Volunteer Blog

Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

Vote for two important refugee projects

Posted by The IRC on 28 August, 2008

American Express members project banner
The IRC is supporting two projects nominated for the American Express “Members Project,” a charitable giving contest.Please vote to get them into the top 25 where they’ll have a chance for a share of $2.5 million in funding from American Express.

Malaria Prevention for Refugees in Thailand
Providing bed nets and other simple and cost-effective malaria control activities to significantly reduce the incidence of malaria among Burmese refugees in Thailand.
Vote for this project >

Refugee Career Development
Providing career development activities to increase job readiness, job retention and earning potential for newly arrived refugees in the U.S.
Vote for this project >

The deadline is next Monday, September 1, so please click now and vote!


Posted in Asia, health, howtohelp, refugees, UnitedStates | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

IRC staff shattered by loss of colleagues in Afghanistan

Posted by The IRC on 14 August, 2008

Afghanistan map IRC
International Rescue Committee staff members around the globe are shattered by the loss of four courageous and compassionate colleagues who were dedicated to improving the lives of children in Afghanistan.

Yesterday morning, Shirley Case, Nicole Dial and Jackie Kirk were returning to Kabul with IRC drivers Mohammad Aimal and Zabiullah from Paktya, Afghanistan. They had spent the past two days meeting with the local community about an IRC project that aids children with disabilities.

It was during their drive home that their clearly marked IRC vehicle came under heavy gunfire, killing the three women and driver Mohammad Aimal.  Zabiullah was severely wounded. He is thankfully recuperating in a Kabul hospital.  The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Shirley Case began working with the IRC in Afghanistan in June, overseeing a project that gives children with disabilities equal access to education. “Her enthusiasm and hands-on approach were an inspiration to colleagues and her immense energy and sparkle were felt by all who knew her,” says Lisa Owen, the IRC’s deputy director of operations in Afghanistan.

Nicole Dial dedicated her life to supporting programs that help especially vulnerable children: child soldiers, landmine survivors and marginalized children. “When it comes to Nic, her commitment to protecting and improving the well being of children is truly unmatched and she brought an incredible depth of experience to her work,” says Owen.  

A long-time member of the IRC family, Jackie Kirk left behind an indelible footprint.  “It is thanks to her energy, knowledge and vision that thousands of children around the world are leading healthier, more promising lives,” says IRC senior technical advisor for education and close friend, Rebecca Winthrop.

As a driver for the IRC, Mohammad Aimal touched the hearts of many IRC staff.  He started working for the organization six years ago when he was just 19.  Infectiously cheerful, “Aimal” was someone who constantly looked on the bright side of life.

You can read the full IRC statement here.

In the last 48 hours, calls and e-mails have poured in from friends, co-workers and supporters.  If you would like to send a personal tribute, please write care of children@theIRC.org or Emily Miner, International Rescue Committee, 122 E. 42nd Street, New York, NY 10168 USA.

Posted in Asia, children | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Four IRC Aid Workers Killed in Afghanistan

Posted by The IRC on 13 August, 2008

Afghanistan map
Four International Rescue Committee aid workers were killed this morning in an ambush in Logar Province in Afghanistan:

Mohammad Aimal, 25, of Kabul, Afghanistan.  He had worked as a driver for the IRC since 2002.

Shirley Case, 30, of Williams Lake, British Columbia.  She joined the IRC on June 8 in Afghanistan to manage education programs designed to meet the needs of children with disabilities.

Nicole Dial, 30, a dual citizen of Trinidad and the United States.  Her permanent residence was in Trincity, Trinidad and Tobago, W.I.  She joined the IRC May 21 in Afghanistan as a coordinator in the agency’s programs for children.

Jacqueline (Jackie) Kirk, Ph.D., 40, of Outrement, Quebec, a dual citizen of Canada and the United Kingdom.  An education-programs technical advisor, she had worked for the IRC since 2004.  She provided support for the agency’s children’s education programs worldwide. 

A second Afghan driver employed by the IRC was seriously wounded in the attack and has been hospitalized.

“We are stunned and profoundly saddened by this tragic loss,” says George Rupp, president of the IRC.  “These extraordinary individuals were deeply committed to aiding the people of Afghanistan, especially the children who have seen so much strife.  Words are inadequate to express our sympathy for the families and loved ones of the victims and our devoted team of humanitarian aid workers in Afghanistan.”

The full latest IRC statement is available here. We’ll post updates as we get them.

For more information:

Current IRC programs in Afghanistan

More about the IRC’s work in Afghanistan over the years

Current IRC programs for Afghan refugees in Pakistan

Posted in Asia, news, refugees | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

First Lady meets Burmese refugees, IRC staff in Thailand [Photo Share]

Posted by Kate Sands Adams on 8 August, 2008

Laura Bush meets with IRC staff in Thailand
Photo: The IRC
Yesterday, First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Barbara visited a refugee camp in Thailand where the International Rescue Committee works to support Burmese refugees. Kay Bellor, the head of the IRC’s Overseas Processing Entity office, which assists people seeking admission to the United States as refugees, gave them a guided tour.

Laura Bush and Barbara Bush meet Burmese refugees IRC photo

Mrs. Bush also sat in on meetings with Burmese refugees who are being considered for resettlement in the U.S. and joined a send-off for families who were leaving the camp to begin new lives in South Carolina.

Thanks to IRC colleagues in Thailand who shared these photos.

Posted in Asia, refugees | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Afghanistan: A lasting commitment [IRC at 75]

Posted by The IRC on 31 July, 2008

An Afghan boy at an IRc hospital shows his scar from surgery. (IRC photo)

An Afghan boy at an IRC hospital shows his scar from surgery. (IRC photo)

As we observe our 75th anniversary this year, International Rescue Committee president George Rupp is blogging about one moment from our rich history each month.

In December 1979, the Soviet Union airlifted troops into the mountainous country of Afghanistan.  The Soviets and their Afghan allies took the capital, Kabul, and launched nine years of war with indigenous resistance groups. Thus began three decades of conflict and massive displacement for the Afghan people, along with the devastation of their country.Within weeks of the Soviet invasion, the IRC rushed to the aid of Afghan refugees who poured into bordering Pakistan. In 1988, when the Soviets withdrew, the IRC established operations in Afghanistan itself to help its people rebuild. The IRC has remained at work with suffering Afghans in both places—through the rise to power in Kabul of the extremist Taliban regime in 1996; the U.S.-led invasion to overthrow the Taliban in 2001; elections establishing a permanent Afghan government in 2004; and, by 2008, renewed concern over a resurgence of Taliban guerilla fighters. The IRC’s efforts in Afghanistan are now the IRC’s most longstanding.

The consistency and quality of the IRC’s work in Afghanistan owe much to the skill and determination of our staff members, both international and Afghan. It is doubtful, however, that when then IRC board president John Whitehead made his first visit in 1980 to the makeshift refugee camps springing up on the Afghan-Pakistan border, he could have known what a long and difficult commitment the IRC was about to make. What John did know was that a terrible human tragedy was unfolding on the border: one in three Afghans—some five million people—had fled their homeland and were living in terrible conditions.

By the end of 1980, the IRC was operating an extensive program of relief. We dispatched mobile clinics and set up dispensary tents. Scouts went into the scattered encampments to bring sick refugees to the medical tents. Vocational and self-help programs were developed. One of the IRC’s greatest accomplishments was its educational programs, which ranged from preschool to postgraduate courses and included a high school for refugee girls in Peshawar. Among the young refugees who passed through the camps was Mohammed Haneef Atmar, now minister of education, who worked for the IRC as program director in Kabul before joining the government of President Hamid Karzai.  And when I met him in 2002, President Karzai reminded me that he had once taught English at our IRC school in Peshawar, Pakistan. 

In 1989, the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan, ushering in, not an era of peace, but a new round violence and civil war. The IRC was one of the few aid agencies that continued to operate inside Afghanistan under the Taliban, with a team of Afghan national staff members who, among other activities, organized home schooling for Afghan girls forbidden an education under the regime’s rules.

Even before we established an official presence in Afghanistan following the Soviet withdrawal, the IRC was sending teams into the Afghan countryside to repair roads, rebuild irrigation systems, and establish public health and sanitation facilities. With the overthrow of the Taliban, the IRC ramped up efforts to help Afghans rebuild. In 2007, the IRC enrolled some 11,000 students in 400 schools and trained over 1,000 teachers.  Nearly 2,000 people graduated from our vocational programs. And we helped to establish locally elected community development councils in which villagers make the decisions.

Despite the continuing instability in Afghanistan, the IRC remains as committed to the land and its people as it was nearly 30 years ago.  Our staff is now 99% Afghan – talented colleagues, many of whom have been with the IRC for decades.  As Razia Stanikzai, an Afghan refugee and a field manager for an IRC education programs in Pakistan remarked, “We Afghans have bled a lot, and now we want our children to experience peace.”

You can read all of George Rupp’s history posts here.

Posted in Asia, children, education, history, refugees | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »