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Kenneth Bacon, a veteran American journalist who as a senior government official during the 1999 Kosovo war dedicated himself to helping refugees and other conflict victims, has died. His passing stilled a voice for millions of the displaced around the world that will be sorely missed.
A familiar figure in Washington known for his bow ties, easy manner and commuting through busy city streets by bicycle, Mr. Bacon had a distinguished career as a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal. The experience served him well as the top spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department under President Bill Clinton, where conflicts in Haiti and the Balkans dominated the agenda.
At the Pentagon, he saw first-hand the suffering of countless displaced persons, and when a flood of Yugoslav refugees during the Kosovo conflict threatened to overwhelm the international organizations caring for them, he determined to do what he could to help. So after leaving government in 2001, he agreed to head a Washington-based advocacy group, Refugees International, dedicated to bringing attention to the plight of millions of the displaced.
Under Mr. Bacon's lead, the group doubled in size and pressed world leaders for increased protection and aid for refugees in places as far flung as Sudan's Darfur region, Iraq, Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia. Though suffering the late-stage skin cancer that eventually would kill him, Mr. Bacon as recently as June testified before the U.S. Congress on conditions facing internally displaced persons in Pakistan.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted Mr. Bacon's passing, saying the world has lost a great humanitarian whose contributions were felt from Central Africa to South Asia to the Americas. His countrymen long will be inspired by the example that he set.