Established in 1954, the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award honours individuals, groups and organizations who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect refugees, as well as internally displaced and stateless people.
The 2022 Global Laureate was Dr. Angela Merkel, the Former Federal Chancellor of Germany. Under her leadership, Germany welcomed more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016, at the height of the conflict in Syria and amid deadly violence in other places.
The selection committee said it was recognizing Dr. Merkel’s “leadership, courage and compassion in ensuring the protection of hundreds of thousands of desperate people”, as well as her efforts to find “viable long-term solutions” for those seeking safety.
In her acceptance speech, Dr. Merkel acknowledged the huge efforts made by other countries such as Türkiye, Lebanon and Jordan, which continue to host large numbers of Syrian refugees, many of whom wanted to remain close to their home country.
“My wish... is that the good examples will set a precedent, and that even more people will feel committed to protecting other people,” she said. “Because as we know, no one leaves their home lightly.”
Dr. Angela Merkel and the regional winners came to Geneva to receive their awards at a ceremony on 10 October 2022. You can watch a recording on YouTube.
Meet the 2022 Regional Winners
The 2022 Regional Winners of the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award were selected from hundreds of nominees for their outstanding work with refugees, internally displaced and stateless people.
Africa Regional Winner: Mbera Fire Brigade
Founded by refugees, this all-volunteer firefighting group in Mauritania has extinguished more than 100 bushfires and planted thousands of trees to preserve lives, livelihoods and the local environment.
Read about their amazing work
Americas Regional Winner: Vicenta González
Doña Vicenta, a former midwife, has provided nearly 50 years of service to displaced and other vulnerable people in Costa Rica. Along the way, she established a cacao cooperative to support refugees and host-community women, including survivors of domestic violence.
Read her inspirational story
Asia Regional Winner: Meikswe Myanmar
This humanitarian organization assists communities in need, including internally displaced people, with emergency items, health care, education, and livelihoods opportunities – while striving to build the capacity of local organizations.
Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Winner: Dr. Nagham Hasan
This Iraqi gynaecologist provides medical and psychosocial care to girls and women who survived persecution, enslavement and gender-based violence at the hands of extremist groups in northern Iraq.