Concern’s work with refugees

Refugees and displaced people have been at the heart of Concern’s work for over 50 years.

A global crisis

For almost 50 years, Concern has worked with the world’s most vulnerable people, and few are more vulnerable than those who have been forced to leave their homes.

Right now, the world is seeing a crisis of human displacement on an almost unprecedented scale. Over 65 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide — the largest number since World War II.


Of those 65 million, 21 million are classified as refugees. Even more people are considered to be internally displaced persons, or IDPs, meaning they’ve been forced to leave their homes but haven’t crossed a border into another country. (Find out more about the differences between refugees, IDPs, and migrants.)

Concern works with IDPs in many countries. We also work with refugee populations all over the world, but most of our refugee work is currently focused on the Syrian crisis.

Pie chart of where displaced people are hosted, by continent

The vast majority of the world’s displaced people are currently hosted in Africa and the Middle East, and these are the regions that Concern focuses on. We support not only displaced families, but also the communities who host them.

Our work with refugees

Currently, our largest refugee-focused programs are in Lebanon and Turkey, where we are working with Syrian refugees.


More than one million Syrians have fled to Lebanon over the last six years, meaning that one in every four people in the country is a Syrian refugee. Concern is working in Akkar, the poorest and northernmost district in Lebanon, to address the shelter, education, livelihoods, health, and safety needs of more than 14,500 Syrian refugees and members of Lebanese host communities. We are also strengthening water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure for more than 88,400 people. In education, our work supports both Syrian and Lebanese children with tutoring, early learning and supplemental classes, and psychosocial services. Our programs to reduce domestic violence and negative behaviors resulting from the stressful experience of being a refugee have also enabled families to cope more positively.


More than 2.8 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, which hosts more  Syrian refugees than any other country in the world. Concern is working in several provinces in Turkey to help nearly 77,000 refugees, providing clean water, emergency food and supplies, education, and job training. In 2016, we helped more than 20,000 children, parents, and teachers with education programs that provided safe learning spaces, quality learning materials, training, transportation to schools, psychosocial support, and community engagement campaigns. We also provided 66,419 people with e-vouchers to buy food. In addition to our own programs, we partner with local non-profits to improve their capacity.

Concern is also working with smaller refugee populations in many other countries worldwide.

Our work with displaced people

Concern works in some of the world’s poorest countries. Many of these countries are experiencing some level of conflict and instability, and often they’re located in parts of the world that are prone to severe climate- and weather-related disasters, such as droughts and floods. All these pressures lead to large numbers of people being forced to flee their homes, becoming internally displaced with their own countries.

Definitions of refugees, IDPs, and migrants

Having left behind their homes, assets, livelihoods — and often their family — these are truly some of the world’s most vulnerable people. For this reason, Concern works with internally displaced people in almost every country that we’re based in, but it is a particular focus in several countries.

South Sudan

For more than three years, there have been waves of violence and conflict in South Sudan, driving 2.6 million people from their homes, with a million of them fleeing the country altogether. In the cities of Juba and Bentiu, where some of the worst fighting has taken place, we are responding to the emergency needs of those who fled. In addition to distributing food, providing clean water, improving sanitation, and delivering relief supplies in these areas, we have also built more than 11,700 shelters for those living in displacement camps. Additionally, Concern teams go family to family in the camps to screen children for malnutrition and provide treatment and referrals as needed. Outside of South Sudan, our teams are delivering assistance to those who have fled to refugee camps in Ethiopia and Uganda. Famine was recently declared in some parts of South Sudan — read more about our response.

Central African Republic

In March 2013, the Central African Republic’s predominantly Muslim Seleka overthrew the government of President Francois Bozizé. After nearly four years of conflict, more than 411,000 people have been internally displaced in the Central African Republic. Concern works in the southwest of the country, where we have helped more than 78,000 people by providing livelihoods opportunities, improving food security and nutrition, supporting health facilities and services, and strengthening water and sanitation infrastructure.

Democratic Republic of Congo

A country of immense natural resources, DRC is at the heart of what many have called “Africa’s world war,” as regional leaders face off in a conflict that pits the government military against armed militias, leading to political insecurity, ethnic tensions, and nationwide demonstrations. Currently, 1.5 million people are displaced in DRC. Concern works in the country’s conflict-riddled east with both displaced families and overburdened host communities. Last year, we helped nearly 83,900 people affected by violence by distributing emergency relief items, such as tarps, hygiene items, and jerry cans, as well as helping them to recover through access to cash, assets, and livelihoods opportunities. Concern is also the lead in a consortium of four international NGOs in a five-year water, sanitation, and hygiene program in which we reached over 97,500 people across 121 villages in 2016.

Help Concern support refugees, IDPs, and other vulnerable people across the globe