Angelina Jolie congratulates 2013 winner of UNHCR's Nansen Refugee Award

Press Releases, 30 September 2013

Ahead of the presentation of the 2013 Nansen Refugee Award to Sister Angélique Namaika of the Democratic Republic of the Congo tonight in Geneva, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie sent a message of congratulations to the Roman Catholic nun and praised her for her selfless work helping hundreds of female victims of violence, rape and other abuse.

"I warmly congratulate Sister Angélique Namaika, this year's Nansen Refugee Award laureate, for her outstanding and truly inspiring work to support vulnerable displaced women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Nansen Refugee Award recognizes her extraordinary contribution and the manner in which she has positively impacted the lives of thousands of displaced people in the DRC. Sister Angélique's work can also help to draw attention to the devastating effects of rape and sexual violence and the need for justice and help for survivors. The culture of impunity for sexual violence in conflict must be challenged; for far too long it has been possible for rape to be used as a weapon of war and for perpetrators to go unpunished. We need global action to end war zone rape, and I call on governments around the world to make this an urgent priority."


About Sister Angélique Namaika

Sister Angélique was selected as the 2013 laureate in recognition of her tireless efforts in north-east Democratic Republic of the Congo on behalf of hundreds of women and girls displaced and abused by armed groups including the Lord's Resistance Army, or LRA, a rebel group from Uganda. Through her Centre for Reintegration and Development, she has helped transform the lives of more than 2,000 women and girls. Many of them tell stories of abduction, forced labour, beatings, murder, rape and other human rights abuses.

Sister Angélique was herself displaced by the violence in 2009 while living in the small town of Dungu in Orientale province. She knows the pain of fleeing one's home. It is part of what drives her to work day in and day out to reach all those in need.


About the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Ceremony

The Nansen Refugee Award ceremony takes place in Geneva at the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices. The event will feature a keynote speech from best-selling author Paulo Coelho and musical performances by British singer-songwriter Dido, Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna and Grammy-nominated Malian musicians Amadou and Mariam.

Following the ceremony, Sister Angélique will travel to Rome, where she will be received at the Vatican by Pope Francis on October 2 before proceeding to Paris, Brussels and Oslo for other meetings.

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The Nansen Refugee Award

The Nansen Refugee Award

Given to individuals or organizations for outstanding service in the cause of refugees.

Nansen Biography

Fridtjof Nansen was a scientist, polar explorer, diplomat, statesman and humanist, with a deep compassion for his fellow human beings. In 1921 Nansen was appointed the League of Nations' first High Commissioner for Refugees and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the following year in recognition of his work for refugees. UNHCR established the Nansen Refugee Award in his honour in 1954.

Nansen Biography

Nansen Award presentation for the late Senator Edward Kennedy

UNHCR's annual Nansen Refugee Award was posthumously awarded to Senator Edward Kennedy at a ceremony in Washington DC on October 29 for his life-long commitment to refugee rights. Kennedy's wife, Victoria, accepted the award on behalf of her late husband. In presenting the award, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, praised the "vision and commitment" of Senator Kennedy in his support for the displaced.

The prize money of US$100,000 will be donated to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, where it will be used to train the next generation of leaders dedicated to the cause of refugee advocacy. The Nansen Award is given to an individual or organization for outstanding work on behalf of refugees. It was created in 1954 in honour of Fridtjof Nansen, Norwegian polar explorer, scientist and the first global High Commissioner for Refugees.

Nansen Award presentation for the late Senator Edward Kennedy

2012 Nansen artists line-up

Singer, songwriter, campaigner, activist, and UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador Annie Lennox, OBE will perform at this year's United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Nansen Refugee Award being held in Geneva on October 1st and broadcast internationally.

The line-up, which also includes classical singer and UNHCR Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador Barbara Hendricks, Swiss star Bastian Baker and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Madam Leymah Gbowee, will pay tribute to this year's Nansen Refugee Award laureate.

TV presenter Isabelle Kumar will be the Master of Ceremonies on 1st October. The winner of this year's Nansen Refugee Award will be announced in advance of the award ceremony at 10:30 am on September 18 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

2012 Nansen artists line-up

Nansen Refugee Award: Pope Francis meets Sister AngéliquePlay video

Nansen Refugee Award: Pope Francis meets Sister Angélique

Pope Francis meets and blesses UNHCR's 2013 Nansen Refugee Award winner Sister Angélique Namaika in St Peter's Square, Vatican City.
Nansen Refugee Award: The Global Refugee CrisisPlay video

Nansen Refugee Award: The Global Refugee Crisis

At the 2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award ceremony a moment was taken to reflect on the endless refugee plight.
Nansen Refugee Award: Past WinnersPlay video

Nansen Refugee Award: Past Winners

At the 2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award ceremony a moment was taken to remember past Nansen Refugee Award laureates.