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Our History

Our History

36 years in review

The establishment of International Medical Corps in 1984 ushered in a new and different kind of relief agency. By providing health care through training, International Medical Corps challenged—indeed, changed—the very definition of relief work.

1984, Afghanistan 

Unable to stand by and watch an entire people deprived of basic healthcare, International Medical Corps is born with a pioneering approach:  train Afghan civilians as advanced medics, then support and supply them as they return to Soviet-occupied Afghanistan to treat residents in their home communities. The unprecedented program succeeds, establishing our work and the important role of training in humanitarian assistance.

1989, Honduras

Our teams deploy to Honduras, providing reconstructive surgery and health care for those displaced by armed conflict in Nicaragua.

1990, Angola

International Medical Corps touches a third continent—Africa, venturing where few relief agencies go to deliver emergency healthcare to civilians trapped on both sides of Angola's civil war. Our work expands after we successfully convince the warring parties to allow us to reach those in greatest need. Locally-trained vaccinators immunise thousands of children and women against preventable disease. In addition, we expand to build self-reliance with nutrition and agriculture programs.

1991, Somalia

Our emergency relief teams land in Somalia as the first American non-governmental organization in the country. We brave civil war to deliver desperately needed war-related surgery to civilians injured in the capital, Mogadishu, then follow up with a nutrition program for those caught up in an ensuing famine that grips vast areas of central Somalia. The speed and reach of our response furthers our reputation as an organisation prepared to go where we are needed most.

1992, Thailand & Cambodia

Working initially from Thailand, we develop maternal and child health training materials for Cambodian refugees. Later in the year, we go on to launch a training program inside Cambodia to promote positive health behaviour, deliver maternal and child health services and refer patients for substantive care.


1993, Bosnia

Drawn by brutal ethnic cleansing and civilian suffering that accompanied the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, International Medical Corps begins work in Europe for the first time. In Bosnia, we conduct emergency medicine training for physicians, create an ambulance system and deploy mobile clinics. We also launch our first mental health program to support those with psychological trauma resulting from the war, focusing on young children and teenagers.

1994, Sudan & Rwanda

International Medical Corps responds inside Rwanda just a few days after the genocide begins to provide emergency healthcare to survivors and those displaced by the violence. With most medical specialists lost in the frenzy of killing, our training program for survivors helps lay the groundwork for a new health sector. In southern Sudan (now South Sudan), local workers help us rehabilitate a major hospital, reactivate a surgical unit and implement an immunisation training program for more than 1,300 women and children.

1998, Four Continents 

In a single year, we respond in four new countries on four continents. In Honduras, we provide emergency healthcare in remote villages to Hurricane Mitch survivors. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we offer emergency healthcare to those displaced by civil war and after a terrorist bomb explodes near the American embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, we train more than 550 local health staff as medics. We later expand the program to include ambulances and communications systems, enabling health workers to meet the demand for emergency services.

1998, Kosovo

In Kosovo, our mobile medical units provide emergency and primary healthcare to survivors of ethnic cleansing spreading through the Balkans. During the crisis, we treat thousands in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. We are among the first relief organisations to expand into Kosovo after NATO bombing ceases. In the months that follow, we provide training as we work hand-in-hand with returning refugees to help rebuild their healthcare system which had been bombed and looted during the war.

1998, Georgia

We implement health programs for nearly 300,000 displaced persons in Georgia, a country plagued by ethnic and civil strife since its 1991 independence from the Soviet Union. With health insurance initiatives, micro-projects, and extensive health education and training components, we serve over 500,000 people in nearly 300 communities. 

1999, Sierra Leone

International Medical Corps gives residents in civil war-torn Sierra Leone access to primary healthcare services. We rehabilitate a provincial referral hospital and train healthcare workers who ultimately staff it. We also provide healthcare and screening to demobilised combatants, including child soldiers who had been tortured, forced to join rebel ranks and engage in combat. 

2000, North Caucasus

In response to the Russo-Chechen wars, we begin services in the North Caucasus of the Russian Federation that continue over the next seven years and include primary health care, psychosocial and mental health support, public health outreach on tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS prevention to communities in Ingushetia. We also launch programs in Azerbaijan that include a community-based primary health care delivery program plus an HIV prevention program that uses peer health education programs to reach over 100 communities.  

2000, Indonesia and East Timor 

In Indonesia, we establish an emergency healthcare program in North Maluku, then expand to other areas following crises in Maluku, West and Central Kalimantan, Madura Island, North and Central Sulawesi and North Sumatra. In East Timor, we provide maternal and child healthcare and begin to rebuild a national healthcare training centre in Dili that was destroyed amid the violence that leads to Timor’s independence from Indonesia.

2000, Eritrea

We deploy to Eritrea when conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea leaves over one million people displaced. Our medical teams assist Eritrean returnees, using mobile clinics and health centres to provide curative consultations, prenatal care, immunisations and supplementary feeding to more than 50,000 people in 12 remote villages. 

2001, Afghanistan

International Medical Corps increases its presence in Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban, first providing emergency relief, then supporting health system development with programs ranging from primary healthcare to midwifery education and hospital management. Many of those we initially trained in the 1980s rejoin us or go on to take leadership positions in the Ministry of Public Health. 

2002, Ethiopia

Severe drought creates a food crisis in Ethiopia where we undertake an emergency nutrition program with community-based therapeutic feeding. We also train local health workers and establish nutritional early warning systems.

2002, Indonesia

Following the Bali, Indonesia, terrorist bombing, we provide emergency triage and lifesaving care for the wounded then expand our healthcare services and training to include counselling and educational messages on mental health, stress and trauma.

2003, Iraq

We are one of the first international relief organisations to begin work in Iraq following the US-led invasion and the only one to operate in all 18 of the country’s governorates through the height of insurgent-led violence in the years that followed. We assist with reconstruction, provide medical training, hospital rehabilitation and water and sanitation services.

2003, Uganda

International Medical Corps responds to conflict in northern Uganda sparked by a resurgence of the Lord’s Resistance Army. We provide emergency medical relief and nutrition services to the most vulnerable of an estimated one million displaced civilians. We respond again three years later with mobile health clinics as increased violence leads to further deterioration of health services. 

2004, Darfur (Sudan)

Our emergency relief teams deploy to Darfur to assist those displaced by fighting. We begin emergency relief focusing programs on the needs of women and children displaced inside Darfur as well as those seeking refuge in eastern Chad and northern Central African Republic.

2004, Indonesia

International Medical Corps is among the first international relief organisations to reach Indonesia's hard-hit Aceh region following the giant Indian Ocean tsunami. We are also one of the few to remain until the acute emergency ends. We provide a broad range of health care, including emergency medicine, trauma surgery, maternal and child health in some of the worst-hit communities of a disaster that claims approximately 250,000 lives across the Indian Ocean region. In Sri Lanka, we establish the country’s first mental health program to assist tsunami survivors.

2005, Indonesia

In the Indian Ocean tsunami’s aftermath, we strengthen a local Indonesian medical relief group by partnering to create a comprehensive emergency preparedness and response program in disaster-prone areas throughout the country. The program is soon tested, successfully limiting damage and loss of life caused by major earthquakes in Nias in 2006 and 2007.

2005, Pakistan 

Our medical response teams are on the scene within 12 hours of a major earthquake in north-western Pakistan, delivering emergency care to survivors of a catastrophe that claims over 70,000 lives.

2005, United States 

International Medical Corps deploys within the United States for the first time, providing mobile medical units to assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. We also offer psychosocial support for those who lost loved ones, their homes, and their entire neighbourhoods to the storm.

2006, Lebanon

Following the outbreak of war in southern Lebanon, International Medical Corps’ response teams distribute critical healthcare and medical supplies to local clinics, dispensaries and hospitals overwhelmed by the needs of nearly one million people displaced by the fighting. We remain after the violence ends to rehabilitate and resupply damaged clinics and participate in other programs, including child awareness programs warning of the dangers of unexploded ordnance.

2006, Caucasus

We launch training and education programs in Dagestan and Chechnya to improve health care for those left vulnerable as a result of political turmoil.

2007, Middle East

We respond across a broad front to a regional crisis in the heart of the Middle East as more than two million Iraqis flee the violence of sectarian warfare and a virulent insurgency. As refugees flood into neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, we provide primary health care, including psychosocial support in all three countries for both Iraqi refugees and local host populations.

2008, Kenya

International Medical Corps responds quickly in Kenya to provide emergency medical and mental health care to thousands of those displaced amid large-scale violence sparked by disputed national election results. The same year, we improve access to clean water for nearly 50,000 nomadic pastoralists in the country’s remote, dry, northern district of Samburu, where we establish village water committees to manage and maintain wells, provide community water and hygiene education for families and schools, and construct latrines.

2008, Myanmar

We join the international response to assist survivors of Cyclone Nargis, the worst natural disaster in the history of Myanmar, which claims over 100,000 lives and destroys much of the densely-populated Irrawaddy Delta. We extend emergency care and relief supplies, then stay on to provide farmers with the seed, tractors and fuel they need to start again.

2008, Mozambique & Zimbabwe

In Mozambique, we train health workers and generate HIV/AIDS awareness at the community level, including the promotion of voluntary testing, counselling, teaching ways to prevent mother-to-child transmission and encouraging reproductive health. In Zimbabwe, we respond to a crippling cholera epidemic, providing medical supplies to local partners, then launching long-term interventions including clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) promotion, as well as training programs for community-based health workers in cholera prevention and case management.

2010, Haiti

We arrive Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince within 24 hours after a 7.0 earthquake leaves hundreds of thousands dead or injured and much of the city and surrounding areas in shambles. We provide critical emergency medical care and coordinate the humanitarian response at the country’s largest hospital where we see hundreds of patients daily. When a cholera outbreak erupts, our team of 1,100 locally-trained Haitian health workers leads a massive response to treat the sick and educate communities on prevention.

2010, Chile

For the second time in as many months, we respond to a major earthquake in our own hemisphere after a massive 8.8 quake centred off the coast of central Chile causes extensive damage. A resulting tsunami wreaks havoc in several large coastal communities, but the country’s strong national response capabilities limit the need for a major international relief effort.

2010, St Lucia

Following a fire that destroys St. Jude Hospital in St. Lucia, International Medical Corps sets up a temporary medical facility, rehabilitates the damaged hospital and provides continuing medical education for hospital staff.


2011, Japan

Japan has extraordinary capacity and expertise to manage emergencies, however, the magnitude of a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami that claim more than 20,000 lives is large enough to warrant international assistance. We work in partnership with the Japanese government and local nonprofits to distribute food and medicines to affected communities. We train medical professionals, teachers, social workers and parents to support the psychological needs of those coping with the disaster.

2011, Libya

When armed conflict breaks out in Libya, International Medical Corps is one of the first humanitarian groups to respond, providing emergency medical services administered at mobile field hospitals we establish on the front lines. We evacuate injured patients by boat to Malta, then train health workers locally. When the violence ends, we stay on to help rebuild health sector infrastructure and close gaps in key technical skills.

2011, Horn of Africa

We mobilise for a major relief effort in southern Somalia, working with teams in Ethiopia, Kenya and throughout Somalia to deliver emergency nutrition, water and sanitation services to those affected by famine in the Horn of Africa.

2012, Syria Crisis

As violence escalates in Syria, where we have been working since 2007, we provide medical services to displaced Syrians, as well as assist Iraqi refugees who had fled to Syria years earlier. As refugees flood into neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey, we scale up operations throughout the region, providing family healthcare, clean water, nutrition and mental health services.

2012, South Sudan

International Medical Corps teams provide emergency medical assistance to those injured in an outbreak of communal violence in remote areas of South Sudan. As the fighting eases, we remain to provide healthcare for those displaced by the violence and unable to return home.

2014, 30 Years

As our 30th year begins, we respond to support survivors of two major natural disasters in Asia and armed conflict in Africa. We work with local health authorities in India’s Odisha State to provide critically needed health care in more than 50 villages following Cyclone Phailin. Then, less than one month later, we are on the ground providing emergency relief to residents of the central Philippines, many of whom lost everything in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. In both CAR and South Sudan, we assist thousands displaced by internal factional fighting.

2014, Ebola

One of the few international NGOs to treat patients afflicted with the virus at the source of the 2014 outbreak in West Africa, today we provide health care and psychosocial support to Ebola survivors and work to strengthen local health care systems as part of longer-term preparedness and response measures to prevent future outbreaks of Ebola and other infectious disease with epidemic potential.

2015, Nepal Earthquakes

We were among the first international NGOs on the ground providing medical treatment and supplies for survivors of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake. The response later focused on recovery as our teams provided orthopaedic and rehabilitative care to the injured. We worked with local partners to provide psychosocial support, improved healthcare and gender-based violence services and provided nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene services. We assisted more than 200,000 survivors before departing in 2016

2016, Ecuador & Japan

International Medical Corps responds to earthquakes in both Ecuador and Japan. The major earthquakes struck two Pacific nations thousands of miles apart within a period of two days.

2016, Haiti

We were on the ground in Haiti within 48 hours to assist survivors of Hurricane Matthew, a storm that caused widespread destruction over areas of southwestern Haiti, leaving nearly one and a half million people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. Our response teams provided emergency relief, then moved to contain an outbreak of cholera that followed the initial disaster. Our response ended in the spring of 2017.

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