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Press Release

Harlem Désir joins the International Rescue Committee as Senior Vice President, Europe

The International Rescue Committee is delighted to welcome Harlem Désir as its new Senior Vice President, Europe.

Mr Désir joins the IRC from the Forum on Information and Democracy in France, where he was Executive Director. He has also held numerous government roles in French and European politics, including three years as France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs and three terms as Member of the European Parliament. 

In these roles Mr Désir has been personally involved in the adoption of measures on migration policy such as Schengen reform and the relocation of refugees.

In 1984, he co-founded the French not-for-project association SOS Racisme with the mission to fight against racism, anti-Semitism and all other forms of discrimination at a time when many young people from different ethnic groups faced racial discrmination in the suburbs of major French cities.

Harlem is the child of a Martinique-born father and a mother from Alsace, near the French-German border. He received his BA from Parthénon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

Mr Désir will start his new role on 14th September, and be based in Brussels.

Harlem Désir said:

“I am very proud and honoured to join the IRC, an extraordinary organisation with a fantastic history, at a time where it is more needed than ever to help refugees all over the world to have access to safety, health, education and their fundamental rights. It is with great humility but also a lot of enthusiasm that I will take over the position of Senior Vice President Europe to which I wish to bring my experience and my commitment. With the remarkable teams of the IRC in Europe, I want to mobilise Europe to do more to support the IRC’s work in providing help to people shattered by conflicts, natural disasters, climate change and COVID-19. This is fundamental for the most vulnerable people, but also decisive for Europe, as it defines who we are and in which world we want to live.”

David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said: 

“I am delighted to welcome Harlem Désir to IRC as Senior Vice President, Europe. IRC has grown its European funding and influence significantly in recent years and Harlem’s appointment will help deliver more for our clients suffering humanitarian distress in Europe and around the world. He will be a great member of our leadership team and bring a unique blend of experience and skills to the organisation.”


About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue-uk.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.