Armed via a brand-new, worldwide manday, the IRC concerned the help of a continent struggling to shift to self-reliance.

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In just a few years on either side of 1960, a wave of battles for self-reliance was sweeping throughout Africa. Between March 1957, when Ghana claimed independence from Great Britain, and also July 1962, when Algeria wrested self-reliance from France after a bloody battle, 24 African nations freed themselves from their former colonial masters.

In most former English and French colonies, independence came reasonably peacetotally. But the shift from early american governments did not constantly cause peace. Internal conflicts within the newly independent nations and also the continued resistance of the early american powers in southern Africa regularly compelled big numbers of innocent people to flee civil strife and also repressive new regimes.


The IRC was just one of the initially establishments to pertained to the assist of the even more than 200,000 Angolan refugees that fbrought about Zaire in 1962. Photo: IRC

When more than 200,000 Angolans escaped their country’s Portuguese colonial federal government and fcaused surrounding Zaire (currently the Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1962, the IRC responded conveniently. This was the IRC’s first initiative on the Afrideserve to continent and a demonstration of the organization’s expanded international mission and responsibility. We supplied medication and enprovided refugee medical professionals for a medical assistance regimen. Dr. Marcus Wooley, a French-speaking surgeon who had actually himself as soon as been a refugee from Haiti, was sent out to Zaire. He administered the circulation of medical provides, performed surgical treatment at the Service d’Assistance aux Refugies Angolais clinic and at the many kind of border camps he checked out. He devoted much of his time to teaching first help and precautionary care to the refugees and to enhancing the abilities of Angolan wellness care employees. Working via Catholic Relief Services and also Church World Service, the IRC was able to sfinish $179,000 worth of medicines, high-protein food and various other aid to Angolan refugees. After 18 months, the IRC was required to withattract, together with United Nations troops, owing to renewed fighting in between insurgents and also federal government forces. Fortunately, neighborhood help employees were able to take over the programs.

In 1967, the IRC became associated in a dramatic crisis in Nigeria. After winning freedom from Britain in 1960, Nigeria developed a coalition federal government that was shortly roiled by a questioned election, massacres of Ibo world, and also the eventual secession of the Ibos, who declared the southeastern part of Nigeria as the independent nation of Biafra. Civil war and mass starvation complied with. The IRC joined with other establishments in launching the Biafra Christmas Ship, which offered 3,000 lots of food, drugs, and various other life-conserving gives to the Ibos. We additionally recruited Nigerian physicians in the U.S for volunteer objectives to Biafra. At first it seemed that Biafra could endure. But famine and also Nigeria’s remarkable army overcame the battle for self-reliance. The Ibos surrendered in 1970, but not prior to an approximated one million civilization had actually died.

The magnitude of the crisis in Biafra caught the world’s attention. But other disputes on the African continent were hardly noticed by the basic public. An IRC report presciently predicted wright here a lot of the organization’s energies would certainly be directed in the years to come:

Refugee problems in Africa will undoubtedly multiply and intensify as the result of the complex tribal, spiritual, racial, national, and political problems. Biafra is a severe example, however it would certainly be unrealistic not to intend more dilemmas . . . IRC’s commitment to the refugee reason will need a deepening of its involvement in Africa.

Many kind of even more dilemmas have developed, and the IRC has actually indeed deepened our involvement in Africa, even as we have continued to seek our core purpose of helping uprooted civilization to move from injury to residence.

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This short article created by International Committee president George Rupp in honor of the organization’s 7fifth anniversary was first publimelted on May 30, 2008.