Saturday, 26 November, 2022

Merkel chosen for UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

By helping more than a million refugees to survive and rebuild, Merkel displayed great moral and political courage, says Filippo Grandi

Dr Angela Merkel, the former Federal Chancellor of Germany, has been named for the 2022 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, made the announcement on Tuesday that she will receive the award.

The award will be presented to the former German Chancellor in Geneva on October 10 at a ceremony along with the regional winners.

Each year, the award – named after the Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen – is given to an individual, group or organisation who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to protect refugees, internally displaced or stateless people.

Under then Federal Chancellor Merkel’s 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.

Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, praised former Federal Chancellor Merkel’s determination to protect asylum-seekers and to stand up for human rights, humanitarian principles and international law.

“By helping more than a million refugees to survive and rebuild, Angela Merkel displayed great moral and political courage,” Grandi said. “She showed what can be achieved when politicians take the right course of action and work to find solutions.”

The selection committee said it was recognizing former Federal Chancellor 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.

The UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award selection committee has also honoured four regional winners for 2022.

This year marks a century since Fridtjof Nansen – the first High Commissioner for Refugees – was awarded the 1922 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to repatriate prisoners of war and to protect millions of refugees displaced by conflict, revolution and the collapse of the Romanov, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires.

It is also 100 years since the creation of the Nansen passport, an identity document for refugees, many of them stateless, that also enabled its holders to move across borders in search of work.