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Search begins for 2009 Nansen Refugee Award nominees
News Stories, 26 February 2009
GENEVA, February 26 (UNHCR) – The annual search for nominees for UNHCR's Nansen Refugee Award has begun, with High Commissioner António Guterres on Thursday asking the agency's staff to identify candidates for the honour that has been given for service to refugees ever year since 1954.
"Candidates for the Nansen Refugee Award should be inspiring individuals, groups or organizations involved in work supporting the cause of refugees, contributing to their well-being, improving the conditions for people of our concern," said Guterres.
Last year the Nansen Selection Committee chose Chris Clark, coordinator of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre-South Lebanon (UNMACC-SL), and his staff of nearly 1,000 international and Lebanese civilians for clearing cluster bombs – an outstanding contribution to the security of internally displaced people and returnees in Lebanon, as well as humanitarian workers.
The High Commissioner, who chairs the selection committee, said the extent of the work and number of beneficiaries was less important than the "ingenuity, originality and dedication" in ensuring success. Nominations must be received by April 24 and people from outside UNHCR can also put forward candidates.
"This work might include activities such as: protecting the vulnerable refugees; funding, designing, or implementing a project; advocacy; or working on specific policies for facilitating the voluntary return, local integration or resettlement of refugees. Actions taken to prevent refugee-producing situations will also be considered," Guterres said.
Self-nominations and nominations of current or former UNHCR staff members are not encouraged.
The Nansen award, given annually since 1954 to individuals or organizations, is named after Fridtjof Nansen, the first League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the 1922 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
The Award consists of a commemorative medal and a monetary prize of US$100,000, donated by the Governments of Norway and Switzerland. The prize money is used to fund projects for refugees selected by the winner in consultation with UNHCR.
Previous recipients include Eleanor Roosevelt, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, Médecins Sans Frontières, the people of Canada, Graça Machel, Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti, Annalena Tonelli and Margarite Barankitse.
Nominations and requests for information should be addressed to the Nansen Committee Secretariat, fax: (+41) 022 739 7367, email: Nansen Award