The Ceremony

Each year the Laureate of the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award is honoured at a ceremony held in Geneva, Switzerland. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the ceremony will be a virtual event, broadcast in English on 5 October at 18:30 CET on UNHCR’s YouTube channel.

Join a star-studded line up for the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Ceremony, with artists and speakers contributing from all over the globe:

Master of Ceremonies: Alfonso Herrera

Alfonso Herrera, one of Latin America's most recognised actors, was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR in 2020.

Best known for his roles in theatre, film and television (Pillowman, La Dictadura Perfecta, Sense8, The Exorcist and Rebelde), he has supported UNHCR since 2016 via the #ConLosRefugiados campaign. In June 2020, he presented a virtual World Refugee Day concert, co-hosted by the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.  Earlier this year, in El Salvador and Honduras, he met those affected by gang crime and violence, as well as internally displaced persons, observing first-hand how UNHCR and its partners work to provide support and protection.

Keynote Speaker: Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende, bestselling and critically acclaimed international novelist, feminist, and philanthropist, was herself forced to flee her native Chile in 1973, living in exile in Venezuela before moving to the USA.  She now devotes much of her time to human rights and humanitarian causes, including UNHCR.

Since 1996, her charitable foundation has awarded grants to more than 100 non-profit organisations worldwide, delivering life-changing care to hundreds of thousands of women and girls. She has received over 60 prestigious accolades, including 15 honorary doctorates, and was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014, that nation's highest civilian honour.

Musical performance: 2Baba

2Baba (Innocent Ujah Idibia) is a Nigerian singer-songwriter, record producer, and entrepreneur, who became a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in 2020.  He has received several awards throughout his career both locally and internationally, using his platform both off and online to raise awareness about the plight of African refugees.  

Founder of the 2Baba Foundation, whose motto is 'In Service of Humanity', he is an active supporter of, and donor to, several humanitarian causes, including UNHCR.  As a high-level influencer for UNHCR's LuQuLuQu campaign, he strongly believes that Africans have the power to change the African refugee narrative: "#DoitLuQuLuQu is not just a hashtag, it is a way of life." 

A collective of artists with a refugee background will deliver a joint performance.

Aeham Ahmad: Pianist

Aeham Ahmad, a Palestinian refugee, started playing the piano aged just five, in the Syrian refugee camp of Yarmouk. In 2014-2015, he gained international media coverage when he performed amongst the rubble in Damascus, in the early years of the Syrian conflict.  When his instrument was destroyed in the war, Aeham fled Syria and found refuge in Germany.

He has since performed all over Europe, including benefit concerts for refugees.  In 2015, he received the International Beethoven Prize for Human Rights, Peace, Freedom, Poverty Reduction and Inclusion.  His inspirational story was published in his eponymous book 'The Pianist of Yarmouk'.

JJ Bola: Poet

JJ Bola is a poet, educator and former refugee, supporting UNHCR since 2017.  Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, his family fled to the UK when he was six years old.  Much of his work is focused around concepts of displacement, belonging and black masculinity.  His poem, Refuge, explores themes of forced flight, home, integration and the perception of refugees.

He has authored three poetry collections – Elevate, Daughter of the Sun, and WORD - and two novels, No Place to Call Home, and Mask Off (due to be translated into 5 languages).  His latest offering, The Selfless Act of Breathing, will be published in 2021.

María Guzmán and Cruz Miguel Soto Noguera: Dancers

María Guzmán and Cruz Miguel Soto Noguera are dancers from Venezuela. To escape the bad economic situation in Venezuela, María travelled with other international dance companies.  In Peru, she was forced to sleep rough, until a UNHCR-supported shelter provided her with support and assistance to register as an asylum seeker.

Cruz specialises in contemporary and urban rhythms.  He travelled through Colombia and Peru, dancing for a living, where he met María and was wowed by her choreography.

Together in 2020, they won a World Refugee Day talent show hosted by UNHCR Peru, which received over 300 entries from refugees and host communities.

The ceremony ends with a special contribution by Juanes and Nach.


Juanes, the multi award-winning Colombian musician singer-songwriter known as Latin rock's leading global ambassador, has sold 15 million albums.  A prominent global activist, he was recently honoured as the 2019 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year, recognising his "creative artistry, unprecedented humanitarian efforts, support for rising artists, and philanthropic contributions to the world". 

Since 2005, he has raised awareness and funds for key UNHCR events and campaigns, including for millions of his fellow Colombians who have been forcibly displaced by decades of conflict.  He performed live at the Nansen Refugee Awards in 2011, and recently released 'Pasarán' with Nach, to mark their solidarity with World Refugee Day 2020.


Ignacio Fornés Olmo, known as Nach (previously Nach Scratch),is a renowned chart-topping musician and composer from Alicante, credited with transforming the Spanish hip-hop scene as one of their most popular and well-respected MCs. His music is known for its powerful focus on social issues. Through his collaborations with acclaimed Spanish musicians and within the North American rap/soul scene, including John Legend, Talib Kweli, José James and Immortal Technique, he connects strongly with troubled youth and minorities on an international level.

He recorded the song 'Pasarán' with Juanes for World Refugee Day 2020, as a special message of solidarity with the displaced. It has been viewed over 2.1 million times.