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Refugees International to Establish New Center on Climate Displacement

Washington, DC -- Refugees International announced plans to establish the Ken and Darcy Bacon Center for the Study of Climate Displacement today. The Center will use Refugees International’s successful advocacy model to work towards stronger policies and structures that meet the needs of the tens of millions of people expected to be displaced by climate change in the coming decades.

“I wanted to make this gift to ensure that Refugees International’s mission can incorporate the global changes that will create displacement in future years,” said Ken Bacon, president of Refugees International since 2001, who is currently battling melanoma and is on leave. “Climate change will force millions of people from their homes and this will pose enormous challenges to an already stressed humanitarian system. Refugees International is uniquely situated to ensure these people don’t fall through the cracks.”

A generous donation by Ken and Darcy Bacon provided the seed money for the new center, which will be a new program within Refugees International. The UN Foundation, Refugees International board member and actor Sam Waterston, and other members of RI’s board of directors have matched their initial donation. Refugees International’s other priorities include improving the global response to neglected crises and internal displacement, increasing support for people who return home when wars end, strengthening UN peacekeeping efforts, and achieving citizenship for stateless people.

The most immediate threats from climate change are in the form of storms of increasing intensity, such as Cyclone Nargis in Burma; greater incidence of drought and floods that make traditional livelihoods unsustainable; and increased conflicts over access to limited resources. The war in Darfur derives, in part, from conflict over scarce resources as the desert expands. Other dramatic impacts are also predicted in the long term, such as the disappearance of island states like the Maldives. Estimates of the numbers of people expected to be displaced by climate change range from 50 million to 1 billion over the next 50 years. By comparison, there are currently 41.2 million people displaced by conflict.

“I am grateful to the UN Foundation, Sam Waterston and others who support this vision to place Refugees International at the forefront of this issue,” added Mr. Bacon. “Policy makers regularly rely on Refugees International’s unbiased, field-based recommendations to resolve refugee crises. Meeting the challenge of climate displacement will now be our next step. When I came to Refugees International eight years ago, one of my goals was to expand the scope of its work and I am proud of how far we have come. This center will help us work with other organizations on a critical challenge for the future.”

Refugees International advocates for lifesaving assistance and protection for displaced people and promotes solutions to displacement crises. The organization was started in 1979 to advocate for the protection of Indochinese refugees. To learn more, including how to support the Ken and Darcy Bacon Center for the Study of Climate Displacement, go to: www.refugeesinternational.org/climate-displacement.

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Contact:
Vanessa Parra, 202-828-0110 x225;
Megan Fowler, 202-828-0110 x214