Nansen award winner announced

Briefing Notes, 18 September 2007

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 18 September 2007, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR has named as this year's Nansen Refugee Award an advocate for boat people in Malta. Dr. Katrine Camilleri is a 37-year old lawyer with the Jesuit Refugee Service.

The Nansen Award is given annually to an individual or organisation for outstanding work on behalf of refugees. The Nansen Committee, which grants the award, said it had chosen Dr. Camilleri in recognition of her exceptional dedication to the refugee cause.

Since 1997, Dr Camilleri has provided legal advice to hundreds of persons kept in administrative detention centres in Malta. Her efforts have focused on the most vulnerable, including victims of trauma or torture and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. The selection committee praised her tireless efforts to advocate for refugees and her political courage.

With the rise in the number of both refugees and migrants reaching Malta by sea a phenomenon common to other countries around the world irregular migration has become a high profile political issue. In the past year there were attacks on the Jesuits and Dr. Camilleri that are thought to have been staged by opponents of their work with refugees.

The Nansen Refugee Award consists of a commemorative medal and a $100,000 monetary prize donated by the governments of Norway and Switzerland to support a refugee project of the laureate's choice. The award will be presented to Dr. Camilleri on Monday, 1 October 2007, by High Commissioner António Guterres.