Until 1 January 2015, IRIN was a project of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). IRIN aims to create greater awareness and understanding of regional issues and events, and to contribute to better-informed and more effective humanitarian action, media coverage and advocacy.
The news service is widely used by the humanitarian aid community, as well as academics and researchers.
Origin and development
IRIN came into being in 1995 after the Great Lakes refugee crisis resulting from the 1994 Rwandan Genocide overwhelmed the existing information management systems set up by the humanitarian aid community. With its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, it now covers 82 countries, including Papua New Guinea since 2008, for more than a million readers. IRIN has regional news desks in Nairobi, Johannesburg, Dakar, Dubai and Bangkok, with liaison offices in New York and Geneva. The agency is managed by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Its aim is to "strengthen universal access to timely, strategic, and non-partisan information so as to enhance the capacity of humanitarian community to understand, respond to, and avert emergencies."
The main users of IRIN news are people working in the humanitarian aid community, followed by academics, consultants, government officials and other media – newspapers and other print publications, websites, radio stations and television broadcasters - where other readers often pick up IRIN content.
Humanitarian news and analysis
Reports provided by IRIN essentially provide an early warning and help generate humanitarian responses. IRIN news is distributed free of charge to subscribers by e-mail and via the website.
There is also a range of multi-media services:
- PlusNews, a specialised HIV/AIDS news service
- IRIN Film, which produces news footage for international media and short documentary films for advocacy
- IRIN Photo gallery makes images available free of charge
- IRIN In-depth reports have covered sexual violence in conflict areas, refugee repatriation, landmines and the humanitarian fallout of climate change and the global food crisis.
IRIN covers the following countries:
AFRICA: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
ASIA: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.
MIDDLE EAST: Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, OPT, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.
HIV/AIDS is a significant factor in many humanitarian crises. In 2001 IRIN created PlusNews, which has a specialised focus on people living with HIV and AIDS. The service has gradually expanded coverage to all of the IRIN countries. In 2004 a French version, PlusNews Français, was set up for West and Central Africa, and PlusNews Portuguese was launched in 2006. PlusNews now also provides news in Arabic. The service has become one of the largest providers of original HIV and AIDS reporting.
In 2003 IRIN created a short film on the impact of the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda. Other films have covered female genital mutilation, the 2004 West Africa locust swarm, opium cultivation in Afghanistan and the humanitarian impact of climate change. Key media networks that have recently used footage include CNN, CBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, TV5, BBC and SABC.
Watch IRIN Documentaries Online.
IRIN has made its photo library of still images from humanitarian crises all over the world available for free online, in support of humanitarian advocacy.
When IRIN was established in 1995, the organisation depended heavily on e-mail communication. The online service is still supported by an email service and over 30,000 readers depend on personalised e-mail for delivery of IRIN's content.
The major funders of IRIN are the international aid agencies of Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, South Africa, Sweden and Switzerland, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and International Humanitarian City (IHC) in Dubai.