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Statement of Ken Bacon on the Nomination of Senator Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State

"As Secretary of State, Senator Hillary Clinton will face opportunities to broker solutions to the major refugee crises in the world today. Secretary Robert Gates, General James Jones and Susan Rice are all committed to multilateral solutions to the 21st century's most challenging foreign policy issues, and will help President-elect Obama retain military strength while building strong civilian capacity in the U.S. government to resolve international crises. 

"Senator Clinton has a long record of working to protect refugees and end displacement, and both Mr. Obama and Senator Clinton see displacement as both a humanitarian and a security issue. I hope that they will make ending major displacement crises a top and urgent priority.  A world with fewer refugees will be more peaceful, more prosperous and more secure.

"Almost 5 million Iraqis, or over 20 percent of Iraq's population, are currently displaced throughout the Middle East. It is impossible to imagine a stable Iraq or Middle East without tackling the displacement crisis. Senator Clinton should meet with Iraqi leaders and those of neighboring countries to draft a long-term strategy for dealing with Iraqi refugees. This strategy must include increasing aid to countries hosting refugees, allowing Iraqis to remain in exile until conditions in Iraq are safe enough for return, a sharp jump in the number of Iraqis resettled in the U.S., and Iraqi assistance to help displaced people rebuild their lives. The Bush administration failed to address this crisis in a comprehensive manner, but with the expected drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq in the coming years, the new administration cannot ignore it.

"Another key to success in the Middle East is to start peace talks as soon after next year's Israeli elections as possible. Refugees International urges the new Administration to move quickly to broker a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Engagement with key actors in the Middle East on Senator Clinton's first day and not on her final year will be the mark of a successful tenure in office.

"If the new administration moves quickly, it may also have an early diplomatic opportunity to end the war in the Darfur region of Sudan and to avoid new conflict in south Sudan. The key is to work with Sudan's government, the rebel groups, Sudan's neighbors and countries such as China that have a strong economic interest in a peaceful, stable Sudan."

Ken Bacon became president of Refugees International in 2001, after serving for more than six years as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and Pentagon spokesman. Refugees International is a Washington, DC-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises. For more information, go to http://www.refugeesinternational.org.

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Contact:  Vanessa Parra, 202-828-0110 x225;
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