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.

2008 Nansen Refugee Award

The UN refugee agency has named the British coordinator of a UN-run mine clearance programme in southern Lebanon and his civilian staff, including almost 1,000 Lebanese mine clearers, as the winners of the 2008 Nansen Refugee Award.

Christopher Clark, a former officer with the British armed forces, became manager of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre-South Lebanon (UNMACC-SL) n 2003. His teams have detected and destroyed tons of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and tens of thousands of mines. This includes almost 145,000 submunitions (bomblets from cluster-bombs) found in southern Lebanon since the five-week war of mid-2006.

Their work helped enable the return home of almost 1 million Lebanese uprooted by the conflict. But there has been a cost – 13 mine clearers have been killed, while a further 38 have suffered cluster-bomb injuries since 2006. Southern Lebanon is once more thriving with life and industry, while the process of reconstruction continues apace thanks, in large part, to the work of the 2008 Nansen Award winners.

2008 Nansen Refugee Award

2007 Nansen Refugee Award

The UN refugee agency's Nansen Awards Committee has named Dr. Katrine Camilleri, a 37-year-old lawyer with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Malta, as the winner of the 2007 Nansen Refugee Award. The Committee was impressed by the political and civic courage she has shown in dealing with the refugee situation in Malta.

Dr. Camilleri first became aware of the plight of refugees as a 16-year-old girl when a priest visited her school to talk about his work. After graduating from the University of Malta in 1994, she began working in a small law firm where she came into contact with refugees. As Dr. Camilleri's interest grew in this humanitarian field, she started to work with the JRS office in Malta in 1997.

Over the last year, JRS and Dr. Camilleri have faced a series of attacks. Nine vehicles belonging to the Jesuits were burned in two separate attacks. And this April, arsonists set fire to both Dr. Camilleri's car and her front door, terrifying her family. The perpetrators were never caught but the attacks shocked Maltese society and drew condemnation from the Government of Malta. Dr. Camilleri continues to lead the JRS Malta legal team as Assistant Director.

2007 Nansen Refugee Award

The Nansen Refugee Award 2005

Burundian humanitarian worker Maggy Barankitse received the 2005 Nansen Refugee Award for her tireless work on behalf of children affected by war, poverty and disease. The Nansen medal was presented at a grand ceremony in Brussels by H.R.H. Princess Mathilde of Belgium and UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Wendy Chamberlin.

Accepting the award, Barankitse said her work was inspired by one single goal: peace. "Accept your fellow man, sit down together, make this world a world of brothers and sisters," she said. "Nothing resists love, that's the message that I want to spread."

Sponsored by UNHCR corporate partner Microsoft, the ceremony and reception at Concert Noble was also attended by Belgium's Minister for Development Co-operation Armand De Decker, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel, renowned Burundian singer Khadja Nin, Congolese refugee and comedian Pie Tshibanda, and French singer and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Julien Clerc. Among others.

The Nansen Refugee Award 2005

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.