July 16, 2024


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The Wilson Center Launches the Refugee and Forced Displacement Initiative (RAFDI); John Thon Majok is Named as its Director

WASHINGTON – As the scale of the human displacement crisis keeps growing to unprecedented levels, the Wilson Center is announcing a new initiative known as the Refugee and Forced Displacement Initiative (RAFDI). The Center is pleased to announce seed funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to support RAFDI. With the increasing numbers of people displaced from their homes by protracted conflicts and persecution, the need for more sustainable solutions and a new narrative has never been greater. RAFDI will help policymakers and practitioners meet this challenge by expanding the space for new perspectives, constructive dialogue and sustainable solutions.

“The record levels of human displacement are not only a challenge in the immediate sense, but we are at risk of losing an entire generation of human potential,” said Ambassador Mark Green, Wilson Center President and CEO. “We must provide a ladder out of vulnerability and despair for these people.”

John Thon Majok will lead this new initiative. Majok brings leadership, lived experience, and well-rounded perspectives that will guide the vision of this project. He studied the U.S. Refugee Act of 1980 that established the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program through which he came to the United States and from which he is a success story. A former refugee from South Sudan, Majok lived for thirteen years in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya from 1987-2001. He holds an MPA in public administration from George Mason University and a BS in public administration and policy from the University of Arizona.

“John Thon is both a symbol of hope for the displaced and a talented policy leader. We are proud to have him leading this initiative,” said Ambassador Green.

Tackling the challenges of forced displacement requires the collective efforts of government, development, humanitarian and private sector partners. The Hilton Foundation envisions a world in which improving the human condition is a shared and sustainable goal.  

“We know that many of the most effective solutions come from the very people living in impacted communities,” said Peter Laugharn, President and CEO, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. “RAFDI’s commitment to ensuring that people who have experienced forced displacement are at the center of the development of solutions is very much in alignment with our vision, approach and values.”

“I am very honored to lead the RAFDI Project, which aims to expand the space for new perspectives, constructive dialogue and sustainable solution,” said John Thon Majok, RAFDI Director. “We are grateful for our new partnership with the Hilton Foundation.”

This partnership will advance our mutual goals on the pressing issue of forced displacement to increase collective impact, fill knowledge gaps, and develop buy-in for policy recommendations.

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