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The International Rescue Committee is on the ground in around 40 countries, responding to the world's worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster.

Established in 2001, IRC Belgium leads on the International Rescue Committee's engagement with the EU institutions. Our priority is to ensure that EU policy and legislation meet the needs of those affected by conflict and disaster. We use IRC’s learning and experience from the ground to shape EU humanitarian and development policies in ways that improve the lives of more people worldwide. We seek to drive policy change on forced displacement in Europe and globally, and to ensure that EU funding for refugees and internally displaced persons is targeted effectively to ensure sustainable, humanitarian response.

IRC Belgium is part of a strong and flourishing European network, working closely with our offices in Germany, UK, Greece, Switzerland, and Serbia, as well as our sister organisation Stichting Vluchteling (SV) in the Netherlands. 

Our focus

The European Union and its member states are collectively the world’s largest aid donor. Our engagement with the European institutions enables us to help shape effective, evidence-based policies that bring maximum benefit for beneficiaries. Our office in Brussels focuses its efforts primarily on the following priority areas:

EU response to migration

IRC Belgium advocates for a sustainable and humanitarian response to forced displacement. As part of this, we champion legal and protected routes so people can reach countries in the European Union safely and we work with EU member states to support them in scaling up their pledges to resettle refugees. Drawing on our knowledge and experience of working in Greece, the Balkans, and Germany we also push for solutions which address the issues facing refugees and displaced people living in Europe and drive the EU agenda towards more effective policies on resettlement and integration. 

We push for the EU to address the root causes that force people to flee, with a focus on the 'Central Mediterranean Route', a migration route that leads from the Sahel to North Africa and Europe. 

Building on our presence in Libya, the IRC urges the international community to work together to invest in long-term political solutions to stabilise Libya, increase assistance and improve conditions for vulnerable Libyans, migrants and refugees caught in the conflict. 

Khal, a 10 month old boy from Eritrea, sits on his mother's lap in the Community Development Centre in Tripoli, Libya where the IRC is providing healthcare whilst fighting escalates. Restoring peace in Libya is a key focus for IRC Belgium.

Photo: IRC/AOhanesian

Country crises

The IRC advocates for a more effective EU response to protracted crises with policies that work to address the needs of both those who have been forced to flee their homes and the host communities.

Putting Yemen, Syria and the Rohingya crisis in the spotlight, we believe European Parliament and the European Commission are in a unique position to align development and humanitarian policies to better respond to crises that extend over long periods of time. As part of this, we propose concrete solutions for establishing funding that is multi-year and flexible to increase the effectiveness of humanitarian responses to conflict.

Four-year-old Rufaida has grown up in Syria and only known a life of war. IRC Belgium work to keep crises in Syria, Bangladesh and Yemen in the spotlight so children like Rufaida are not forgotten.

Photo: IRC/Abdullah Hammam

Sustainable Development Goals

Without the concerted efforts of the international community to address and measure the needs of people caught in crisis, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will not be achieved, and the gap between this marginalised group and the rest of the world will grow. The EU has a decisive role to play in the achievement of the 'Agenda 2030', but in order to truly meet the commitment to “leave no one behind”, better alignment is needed between its migration, development and humanitarian policies. All policies should be advancing the attainment of the SDGs for crisis-affected people, and their outcomes should be aligned to national plans and integrated into the European policies.

Women and Girls

The IRC’s evidence shows that women and girls are predominantly disadvantaged in humanitarian settings, suffering from a significant funding gap to tackle gender-based violence (GBV) in conflict situations. To this end, we advocate for the EU to be a champion for women and girls caught in crisis and increase funding to prevent GBV, push for clear targets for delivery of support to women and girls caught in crisis within the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and prioritise the voices of women and community leaders in humanitarian programme design and assessment. 

IRC Belgium advocate for the EU to be a champion for women and girls caught in crisis.

Photo: Will Swanson/IRC

Aid Reform

We advocate for additional financing for a refugee response that truly delivers outcomes, including joint multi-year funding, and strive to ensure that refugees and displaced populations are included in the SDG targets. We push for policy reforms that would enable refugees to leave camps, go to schools and get jobs. IRC prioritises long-term livelihoods strategies, promoting sustainable solutions such as the Business Refugee Action Network.

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