The everyday heroes from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East are being honoured for their outstanding humanitarian work.
GENEVA – A refugee school teacher striving to empower rape survivors, a scientist and mother of four on a quest to make reading and learning accessible to refugee children, an activist fighting to protect the rights of displaced people with disabilities and an aspiring refugee footballer using her love for sport to get refugee children off the streets and into the classroom.
These four everyday heroes who go to extraordinary lengths to help those in great need have been selected as the regional winners of this year’s Nansen Refugee Award. The winners, all of whom are women, were selected from across four continents for their humanitarianism and efforts to improve the lives of forcibly displaced people.
Each in her own way, has launched grassroots initiatives to change the lives of people within their communities including refugees and internally displaced people uprooted by conflict in South Sudan, East Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan.
Their service and dedication to the protection of forcibly displaced people reflects the essence and spirit of Fridtjof Nansen – the first High Commissioner for Refugees for whom the award is named. Nansen was a renowned scientist, polar explorer and statesman, and was know for his perseverance in the face of adversity. The annual humanitarian prize seeks to shed light on and honour heroes within our communities who go above and beyond the call of duty to help refugees, displaced or stateless people.
From hundreds of nominations, a winner is selected to represent each region in addition to honouring a single global laureate. Through this award, unsung heroes are celebrated for their extraordinary efforts to change and in many cases save the lives of forcibly displaced people.
This year’s regional winners for Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East are:
The overall winner of the Nansen Refugee Award – who is not among those honoured today – will be revealed on 1 October. The prize will be presented in an online ceremony on 5 October.
Each regional winner will be honoured with a special Nansen certificate and events will be held to celebrate their extraordinary efforts in cooperation with the Swiss and Norwegian embassies in the countries where they work.
The Swiss and Norwegian Governments are UNHCR’s partners in the Nansen Refugee Award project.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.