Our History

Helping the most vulnerable for over 50 years.

  1. 1968

    The beginning

    Concern Worldwide was born in 1968, a year of global upheaval, in response to a hunger crisis caused by conflict in the breakaway Nigerian state of Biafra. Raising $6.5 million in 6 months, Concern buys a 600-ton ship, the Columcille, and sails to West Africa with food and medicines.

    Read more about our dramatic origin story
  2. 1972

    Displacement in Bangladesh

    As conflict displaces millions in the newly founded nation of Bangladesh, Concern launches a response. Concern co-founder Aengus Finucane, who helped coordinate the Biafra response, becomes country director in 1973.

  3. 1973

    Famine in Ethiopia

    As a historic famine strikes Ethiopia, images of emaciated children again shock the world, and again Concern responds. Jack Finucane, brother of Aengus and coordinator the Biafra response, is named country director.

  4. 1978

    Cambodians Seek Refuge

    As Cambodians flee the Khmer Rouge genocide and then a Vietnamese invasion, Concern starts an operation on the Thai border to meet the needs of a swelling number of refugees. Hundreds of thousands would remain there for over 13 years.

  5. 1983

    Famine returns to Ethiopia

    Famine is once again declared in Ethiopia. Media coverage galvanizes worldwide support of aid efforts, including the advocacy of Irish entertainers Bob Geldof and Bono, who visit Concern’s operations and help organize Live Aid, a global concert event broadcast around the world to raise funds for the victims.

  6. 1984

    Civil War in Mozambique

    Concern Mozambique opens in the midst of one of the deadliest and most intractable civil wars in Africa. In 15 years of fighting, over one million Mozambicans were killed or starved due to interrupted food supplies and an additional five million were displaced across the region.

  7. 1991

    Terror in Liberia

    Concern’s Liberia program opens to meet the needs of returning refugees as the country stabilizes after several years of conflict, only to be wracked again by war in the succeeding decade.

  8. 1993

    Tragedy in Somalia

    Amid a horrendous hunger crisis in Somalia, hundreds of thousands of people face starvation. Valerie Place, a 23-year-old Concern nurse from Ireland involved in the emergency response, is shot to death on the road from Mogadishu to Baidoa.

  9. 1994

    Genocide in Rwanda

    Concern launches a massive regional response that will encompass Rwanda, Burundi, and DRC as millions are displaced by the Rwandan genocide and aftermath.

  10. 2000

    Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition

    CMAM launches a revolution in treating childhood malnutrition.

  11. 2004

    Indian Ocean Tsunami

    Concern responds to a massive tsunami in the Indian Ocean by launching operations in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. As many as 200,000 people died and many more were left without shelter, food, and clean water.

  12. 2010

    Earthquake in Haiti

    Concern launches its largest ever emergency response in Haiti after a magnitude 7 earthquake takes more than 200,000 lives and displaces 1.5 million.

  13. 2014

    Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

    Our award-winning safe and dignified burials program saves thousands of lives in Sierra Leone during the West African Ebola epidemic.

  14. 2017

    Rohingya Refugees flee Myanmar

    Concern provides life-saving emergency support on the Bangladesh border as more than half a million Rohingya refugees – a large majority of them children – flee Myanmar.

  15. 2020

    The COVID-19 Global Pandemic

    As COVID-19 threatened to reverse decades of hard-fought progress to end extreme poverty, Concern remained in the hardest-hit communities to deliver life-saving programs.

  16. 2022

    Conflict in Ukraine

    In February 2022 a dramatic upsurge in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine drove huge numbers of people from their homes, sparking a massive humanitarian crisis.

  17. 2023

    Earthquake Rocks Türkiye and Syria

    On February 6th, two massive earthquakes rocked a large area encompassing southwest Türkiye/Turkey and northwest Syria, killing thousands of people and leaving millions homeless.

  18. Today

    A Lasting Legacy

    Today, Concern works in 26 countries, with a focus on the poorest and most vulnerable communities. We are over 4,000 workers of some 50 nationalities, and more than 90% of us are working in our home communities and nations of origin. The animating forces of compassion, empathy, practicality, ingenuity, and innovation that emerge in 1968 are as powerful as ever. As global upheaval continues, Concern Worldwide is as committed now as we were then.