Saturday May 29th marked the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, a day to recognize the efforts and the sacrifices made by multinational peacekeepers all over the world. The past 15 years have marked both an exponential increase in the number of missions and peacekeepers deployed, and an overwhelming transformation in the very nature of peacekeeping. It has changed from relatively simple monitoring missions to complex, multidimensional efforts to stabilize conflict, support the implementation of peace agreements, re-build governments and – in the meantime – protect civilians from harm.
Any one of these tasks is easier said than done, particularly in the punishing political and geographical spaces that the largest missions have been deployed to.
Washington, DC – With grief and a deep sense of loss, Refugees International announces that Kenneth H. Bacon, President of Refugees International, died this morning from an aggressive melanoma that spread into his brain. Mr. Bacon, who became President of Refugees International in 2001 and was only 64 years old at the time of his death, devoted the final years of his life to building the organization into the leading advocacy group on refugee crises.
“Ken Bacon was an extraordinary human being. He led by example and dedicated his efforts to help those most vulnerable – refugees and displaced persons across the globe,” said Farooq Kathwari, Chair of the Board of Directors of Refugees International. “We are inspired by his passion, his integrity, his humility, and the dignity with which he faced the inevitable. We will sorely miss our friend and colleague.”
Under Mr. Bacon’s leadership, Refugees International doubled in size and grew from an organization that largely sounded the alarm on the latest refugee crisis to a program built on sustained advocacy to transform unwieldy and often ineffective international systems. During his tenure, the organization successfully advocated for increased protection and assistance for displaced people in places like Darfur and Iraq, where he focused much of his own work, as well as in Afghanistan, Burma, the DR Congo, Colombia, and Thailand. Mr. Bacon also launched new advocacy programs on peacekeeping and statelessness.