IRIN`s principal role is to provide news and analysis about sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia for the humanitarian community. The networks target decision-makers in relief agencies, host and donor governments, human-rights organisations, humanitarian advocacy groups, academic institutions and the media. At the same time, IRIN strives to ensure that affected communities can also access reliable information, so they can take informed decisions about their future. IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) is part of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, but its services are editorially independent. Its reports do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations and its agencies, not its member states.

Company details

Business Type:
Professional association
Industry Type:
Government
Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)

Our Mission

IRIN delivers unique, authoritative and independent reporting from the frontlines of crises to inspire and produce a more effective humanitarian response.

The Context

The number of people affected by humanitarian crises has almost doubled over the past decade. Climate change, population growth, volatile markets, water scarcity, sectarianism and the mushrooming of armed groups and extremists are pushing more and more communities to the edge. The unprecedented number of concurrent emergencies has exposed serious weaknesses in the current international emergency aid apparatus: financing is unsustainable; local communities do not have enough of a voice; and needs are not adequately met. It is a critical time of change for the multi-billion-dollar international humanitarian sector, which is under pressure to reform the way aid is delivered.

Core to a vision of increased accountability, transparency and efficiency in the international relief industry is an independent voice of analysis and critique. Yet mainstream media coverage of international affairs has been declining steeply over the last two decades; and there is still a major disconnect between the voices of those most affected by crises and decision-makers sitting in New York and Geneva. IRIN fills this gap. We have been a leading source of credible, in-depth, field-based news about crises for two decades. And with our newly independent stance, our editorial voice is bolder; our reach is expanding; and our role is ever more critical.

Our History
After 19 years of award-winning humanitarian news and analysis, IRIN, originally the 'Integrated Regional Information Networks', left the United Nations in January 2015 to relaunch as an independent, non-profit media venture. We have been providing ground reporting on humanitarian crises in a way nearly no other institution does. Outside the UN, we are even better positioned to play this critical role, drawing on the expertise, networks and credibility we have developed, and combining them with increased reach, a more innovative approach and a sharper voice.

How We Work
Through a global network of more than 200 local correspondents, experienced editors and analysts, and an intimate knowledge of the humanitarian sector, IRIN provides insider multimedia news and analysis from hotspots in more than 70 countries.

Thanks to this network, we are in a unique position to alert the public and the humanitarian community on crises before they happen, as they unfold, and after mainstream media interest starts to wane, keeping forgotten humanitarian crises on the policy agenda.

We produce reportage, in-depth interviews, explainers, interactive maps, graphics, galleries, top ten lists, curated reading suggestions, guest commentary and more. We cover Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas, and publish in English, French and Arabic.

Our Audience
IRIN reaches millions of people in more than 190 countries every month through our website, email subscription service, social media channels and syndication partners. More than 200 news outlets and journals - from the New York Times to the Uganda Chronicle - cite or republish our work. 

IRIN’s Audience is:

  • influential: 61 percent of readers have an impact on humanitarian issues and policy;
  • growing: 75 percent of visitors to the website are new;
  • diverse: Half of our readers are less than 34 years; two-thirds of them are based in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
  • IRIN is unique in its ability to reach influential decision-makers in governments, the UN, and NGOs; those affected by crises on the ground; other media; and the general public.

IRIN keeps the general public, aid agencies, and donors informed and accountable, leading to improved humanitarian response. 

Our work helps sound the alarm. We have a long track record of tracking simmering issues before they hit crisis point. We were one of the first media outlets to report on the crisis in Darfur in 2003; and the first to flag that malaria was becoming resistant to the Artemisin drug in 2009. We warned the international community that Boko Haram would become a serious threat to security in West Africa as early as 2009, and reported on the impending 2011 famine in Somalia months before it hit mainstream news. We flagged discrimination against Myanmar’s Rohingya people since 2008, years before the tensions escalated into violent clashes, which displaced tens of thousands of people. 

Our reporting keeps the aid industry accountable. In 2015, funding for UN emergency appeals totalled $22 billion.  By bringing more transparency to the complex and under-scrutinized aid sector, IRIN is part of a positive change in humanitarian response, which serves the need of the aid community, including its donors, but more importantly those who are most in need.

IRIN is a catalyst for change in the aid sector, from prompting a new programme to fight malnutrition in Nigeria to spurring a debate in the Egyptian parliament to forcing the UN to change course in its reform process.

IRIN is a non-profit association, headquartered in Geneva, and governed by Swiss law. Its founding members bring together a mix of expertise in journalism, crisis zones, humanitarian affairs and organizational strategy. Award-winning author and former New York Times foreign corresopndent Howard French, now an associate professor at Columbia Journalism School, serves as the association's president.

IRIN is led by Heba Aly, a quadrilingual multimedia journalist with years of experience reporting from sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia; and Ben Parker, a former aid worker with decades of experience in senior management at the United Nations, online media and development communications.

Our specialist editorial staff are decentralized, giving IRIN a global grounding and reach. Their work is supported by more than 200 freelance reporters, filmmakers and graphic designers, based in crisis zones around the world.

IRIN's funding comes from a mix of sources: governments, foundations, international organizations, the private sector and charged services. In 2015, IRIN was funded by Jynwel Charitable Foundation, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. New partners in 2016 include the United Nations Foundation, the European Asylum Support Office and the Swiss Lottery (Loterie Romande).

IRIN is a non-profit association, headquartered in Geneva, and governed by Swiss law. Its founding members bring together a mix of expertise in journalism, crisis zones, humanitarian affairs and organizational strategy. Award-winning author and former New York Times foreign corresopndent Howard French, now an associate professor at Columbia Journalism School, serves as the association’s president. A high-level advisory group provides further oversight. The new governance structure and website are the latest steps in IRIN’s renewal: IRIN spun off from the UN in 2015, and was hosted by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) during its transition.

IRIN produces reportage, in-depth interviews, video explainers, interactive maps, graphics, galleries, top ten lists, curated reading suggestions, guest commentary and more.

Over two decades, we have developed an archive of more than 100,000 frontline reports that track the buildup to crises before they start and continue to follow them long after the spotlight has moved on. We also have a 30,000-strong photo library and a back catalogue of slideshows, documentaries and video shorts.

We report on Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. We offer reports in English, French and Arabic (IRIN is the only consistent source of Arabic humanitarian news worldwide), and will be adding Spanish and Mandarin down the road.

But we need to continue pushing the boundaries. From our historic home in the United Nations, IRIN has branched out. We have shown that we can do our job even better from a position of independence. Our i reporting has taken on new dimensions:

Investigative: We get behind the scenes, and uncover what does - and doesn't - work. Beyond sunny sit-reps, the humanitarian system needs realtime critical examinations of the key policy questions and dilemmas. If peacekeepers are fuelling sex work; if relief items are not reaching rebel-controlled territory; if aid workers are pressured to compensate for political failures - you'll read it on IRIN, but with the nuance, context and understanding that can lead to constructive dialogue, not scandalous headlines.

Engaged: IRIN is a hub for debate and dialogue on humanitarian issues. You can find guest bloggers and experts writing on our site. And we bring the debates to you on different platforms - from Meerkat to Medium; in conferences, live events and op-eds. Our reporters are a part of the conversation on- and offline.

Innovative: We will always be committed to serious, quality journalism, but our presentation will always evolve. From Snapchat to drones, big data interactives to mobile-native, shareable social content, we are always looking for new formats to do what we do best: making sense of crises.

We bring the whole digital journalism toolkit to the most critical topic of today or any day: life and death.

We are the largest humanitarian news service in the world. Every month, our work reaches up to 70 million people through social media. Up to 300,000 people visit our website every month, more than one-third of them from mobile devices. We have 40,000 subscribers around the world, spanning almost every country. We have consistently grown over the years, including a doubling in unique visitors to our website over the last three years.

Governments, aid agencies, academics, risk consultancies and human rights organizations alike turn to us as a reference. Two-thirds of our readers have an impact on humanitarian issues and policy, among them senior decisionmakers. But we also reach a new, young, and diverse audience. More than half of our readers are less than 34 years old, and three-quarters of our readers are new visitors. We have a strong readership in the Global South and among non-English speakers.

More than 200 newspapers, websites and journals republish and cite our work - from the New York Times to Uganda's Daily Monitor, from the BBC to the Palestine Chronicle. The Huffington Post, Upworthy, the New York Times Syndicate, the Guardian and other powerful media aggregators are exploring ways to market and distribute IRIN*s content. Content licensing agreements with ReliefWeb, the United Nations Foundation and AllAfrica are also underway. We publish content on several different platforms for further reach and engagement.