The Charity CEO Podcast


Laura Kyrke-Smith

Executive Director, International Rescue Committee UK:

Re-settlement for Success

“It was thanks to this country that lots of those rights and protections that exist for refugees are in place … but now… you get that sense in lots of parts of the world, frankly, that the UK isn’t playing the active role that it has played historically.”

Laura Kyrke-Smith is the Executive Director of the International Rescue Committee in the UK.  She leads IRC’s work to raise funds, raise awareness, and deliver policy and practice change to help people who are caught up in conflict and disaster to survive, recover and rebuild their lives. Laura has been with IRC since 2016 as the IRC’s Director of Communications in Europe.

Before joining IRC, Laura was a Partner at Portland Communications. She started her career in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where she worked as a policy analyst and speechwriter. 

Laura has a MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a MA in History from the University of Cambridge. 

Ep 45. Laura Kyrke-Smith, Executive Director, IRC UK:

Re-settlement for Success

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a global organisation that helps people affected by humanitarian crises. The IRC supports people who have been caught in conflict and been forced to flee their homes, enabling them to survive, recover and rebuild their lives.

Founded at the call of Albert Einstein in 1933, the IRC today works in over 40 crisis-affected countries, as well as with communities across Europe and the Americas.

Laura Kyrke-Smith is the Executive Director of the International Rescue Committee in the UK.

We talk about the current global context for refugees - 108 million people forcibly displaced around the world. Contrary to popular opinion, the vast majority of these displaced people are not in the wealthy countries in the Global North, but are either within their own country or within a neighbouring country, often also a low and middle income country.

We discuss the UK’s Illegal Migration Bill, which seeks to remove the right to asylum - a stance that is in stark contrast to Britain’s position back in 1951, as one of the original drafters of the Refugee Convention. And how today, Britain’s standing on the international humanitarian stage is sadly not, what it once was.

Recorded June 2023.

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