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Michel Gabaudan became president of Refugees International in September of 2010, leading RI forward in its mission to bring attention and action to refugees and displaced people worldwide. Prior to his role with RI, Michel served as the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) Regional Representative for the United States and the Caribbean. Michel’s career with UNHCR spanned more than 25 years, including international service in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific.
Trained as a medical doctor in addition to holding a master’s degree in tropical public health, Michel spent a decade working in Guyana, Zambia, Brazil, London and Yemen before joining UNHCR as a Field Officer in Thailand in 1978. His UN career took him to field operations in Cameroon and Pakistan as well as several years at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva, where he served as the first public health advisor to the organization.
Subsequently, he served as a Secretary to CIREFCA, the International Conference on Refugees in Central America, where he led a joint UNHCR- UNDP team for a year and a half, supporting peace processes in Latin America. He was then assigned as Charge de Mission in Guatemala where he negotiated the first phases of the return of refugees. In 1995, he was appointed as the Regional Representative in Mexico responsible for all Central American countries. That same year, Michel was the recipient of the Order of the Quetzal, Guatemala’s highest honor. The award was bestowed upon him in appreciation for his involvement in the country's peace process.
He then went on to become head of UNHCR’s funding and donor relations service at headquarters in Geneva. Between 2001 and 2004, Michel was the Regional Representative in Australia. Prior to coming to Washington, he served as the Regional Representative for UNHCR in Beijing.
> Watch Michel discuss his experiences working with refugees around the world, as well as his new perspective on the future of Refugees International: