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Nansen Refugee Award for 2005

Briefing notes

Nansen Refugee Award for 2005

29 April 2005

This morning, we have announced that the winner of the 2005 Nansen Refugee Award is Ms Marguerite Barankitse, known as the 'Angel of Burundi'. Over the last 12 years, Ms. Barankitse has helped more than 10,000 children of all ethnic origins affected by civil war in Burundi and other conflicts in the region.

The Nansen Refugee Award Committee selected the Burundian humanitarian worker and director of the NGO 'Maison Shalom' in recognition of her tireless work with separated children whose lives have been devastated by war and the scourge of AIDS.

A teacher by profession, Ms. Barankitse saved the lives of 25 children during one of the massacres in Burundi in 1993. Soon after the civil war in Burundi broke out in October that year, she established 'Maison Shalom' in Ruyigi, one of the country's poorest provinces. The shelter provides refuge, medical care and education for the displaced and unaccompanied children, including refugees and returnees. Since then, she has established three more children's homes and helped more than 10,000 children of differing ethnic groups and nationalities, many of who have witnessed or themselves suffered atrocities.

The Nansen Refugee Award, created in 1954, is named after Fridtjof Nansen, the celebrated Norwegian polar explorer and the world's first international refugee official.

The award, which includes a $100,000 grant for a refugee-related project, will be officially presented at a ceremony to mark World Refugee Day in Brussels on June 22.