Mine Action Programme in southern Lebanon wins Nansen Award
Yesterday in Beirut, UNHCR announced that the British head of the UN Mine Action Programme in southern Lebanon (Chris Clark) and his 990-member team of mostly Lebanese mine clearers, will receive the 2008 Nansen Refugee Award for their courageous work in removing tonnes of deadly munitions that had prevented the safe return of almost one million Lebanese displaced people.
During July and August 2006, more than 750,000 Lebanese fled the south and lived as internally displaced people in northern Lebanon, while another 250,000 people fled to Syria or further afield. The UN Mine Action Programme was crucial in providing support to humanitarian operations in South Lebanon during the conflict and in the initial stages of the ceasefire, as well as in ongoing clearance operations. Because of their work, hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced were able to go home safely and start working again.
The Nansen Refugee Award is given annually to an individual or organisation for outstanding work on behalf of refugees. It includes a $100,000 prize that the winner can donate to a cause of his or her choice. The Nansen Selection Committee said that it had chosen Chris Clark and the team for their outstanding contribution to the safety and security of internally displaced people and returnees in Lebanon, as well as humanitarian workers. The efforts by the winning team represent the importance of the new treaty to ban cluster bombs which was approved by more than 100 countries at the Dublin Conference in May 2008, a process to which Chris Clark and colleagues actively contributed.
The Nansen Award Ceremony will take place on 6 October 2008 at 18:00 at the UN Palais in Geneva, on the first day of UNHCR's Executive Committee meetings.