British photojournalist wins 2010 Nansen Refugee Award

News Stories, 9 July 2010

© Eduardo Diaz
Nansen Award winner, Alixandra Fazzina.

GENEVA, 9 July 2010 The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced today that its annual Nansen Refugee Award will go to Alixandra Fazzina, a British photojournalist whose work documents the often overlooked consequences of war.

On learning of the award Fazzina said, "I am overwhelmed and absolutely delighted to have been recognized by UNHCR with this distinguished honour. I have always sought to bring greater attention to those forced to flee conflict, violence and misery. To lose one's home and have to start a new life is one of the greatest challenges anybody can face, yet millions every year have no other choice."

Over the past ten years Fazzina has travelled to Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe documenting the lives of the uprooted through powerful and moving photo essays.

Announcing the recipient of this year's Nansen Award, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres called Fazzina a "fearless humanitarian. By unearthing and so vividly portraying the individual stories of uprooted people she has achieved something remarkable. Her commitment, empathy and devotion to getting to the bottom of every story make her an exemplary chronicler of the world's most vulnerable people."

Her commitment, empathy and devotion to getting to the bottom of every story make her an exemplary chronicler of the world's most vulnerable people.

High Commissioner António Guterres

Fazzina began her career as a photojournalist embedded with the British army in Bosnia in 2005. She has since focussed on chronicling the human suffering caused by war. The Nansen award committee praised in particular her coverage of land mine victims in Kosovo, civilians stranded behind enemy lines in Angola, rape as a weapon of war in Sierra Leone, the abuse of children by militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda and refugee situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Between 2006 and 2008 Fazzina chronicled the exodus of migrants and refugees from Somalia as they sought to cross the Gulf of Aden to Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula. Spending extended periods of time with those looking to make the hazardous journey aboard smugglers' boats; she captured first hand the despair and suffering of people seeking safety and a better life. The result was the book, A Million Shillings Escape from Somalia to be published in September.

The Nansen Refuge Award is given annually to an individual or organization for outstanding work on behalf of refugees. It includes a $100,000 prize that the winner can donate to a cause of his or her choice. It was created in 1954 in honour of Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian explorer, scientist and the first U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Nansen Award Ceremony will take place on 4 October 2010 in Geneva.

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Alixandra Fazzina 2010 Nansen Refugee Award winner

Photo journalist Alixandra Fazzina is being recognized as this year's winner of UNHCR's prestigious Nansen Refugee Award for her striking coverage of the devastating human consequences of war.

Working in remote and often dangerous environments this photo exhibition shot in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan is a sample of her work and, as is typical of Fazzina's style, portrays the plight of displaced people with compassion and empathy.

Speaking about her photos Alixandra Fazzina said, "I hope my photography gives someone else a moment to stand still, take the time to look, look properly, and engage in a slightly different way with the world".

Ms. Fazzina began her career as a photojournalist embedded with the British army in Bosnia. Since then, she has turned her lens from the frontlines to the refugee camps to document the human suffering caused by war.

Her work has been published by major news media around the world driving attention and sympathy to the people she portrays.

Alixandra Fazzina 2010 Nansen Refugee Award winner

Photo Essay: Documenting the floods in Pakistan

Photojournalist Alixandra Fazzina, winner of UNHCR's Nansen Refugee Award among other commendations, is on the ground in Pakistan.

Photo Essay: Documenting the floods in Pakistan

Pakistan: Finding Refuge

Pakistani civilians continue to stream out of the region around the Swat Valley to find shelter in Mardana

More than 2 million people, according to local authorities, have been forced from their homes following Pakistani efforts to drive militants out of the region around north-west Pakistan's Swat Valley. Some 200,000 are living in camps set up by the Pakistani government and supplied by UNHCR and other agencies. The remainder are staying in schools or other communal buildings or being hosted by families. The heat is intense, reaching 45 degrees Celsius, and many of the displaced are suffering from heat-related infections and water-borne illnesses, although conditions are improving. UNHCR is providing tents, cooking sets, plastic sheeting and jerry cans, among other aid items. Award-winning photographer Alixandra Fazzina has spent the last two weeks documenting the plight of the internally displaced, from their arrival in safe areas, to the camps, schools and homes in which they now find themselves.

Pakistan: Finding Refuge

2010 Nansen Award CeremonyPlay video

2010 Nansen Award Ceremony

British photographer Alixandra Fazzina will receive the Nansen Medal at a ceremony in Geneva on October 4.
Floods in Pakistan: Multimedia slide showPlay video

Floods in Pakistan: Multimedia slide show

Photojournalist Alixandra Fazzina describes the scenes of devastation that greet her every day on the ground in Pakistan.