Foreign Minister congratulates Angela Merkel on 2022 Nansen Refugee Award

‘Angela Merkel has been a prime mover on the German and European political scene, and took a bold stance particularly in the efforts to protect refugees during a time of crisis,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

The UN announced today that former German Chancellor Angela Merkel will receive the 2022 Nansen Refugee Award for her efforts to assist people forced to flee their homes. Ms Merkel was a leading political figure and a prominent voice in the global debate on the refugee crisis after war broke out in Syria. The Nansen Refugee Award is presented annually by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

‘I congratulate Ms Merkel on receiving this year’s Nansen Refugee Award. We can do it, said Angela Merkel . Those words became a rallying cry for many countries and they illustrated her strong political will to receive and help people fleeing from war and conflict. ,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.

The Nansen Refugee Award is co-sponsored by the Norwegian Government, and honours individuals, groups and organisations who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect refugees, displaced persons and stateless people. There are currently over 100 million people worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes. The work of the UN Refugee Agency is more important than ever.

‘The Award is part of the humanitarian legacy of Fridtjof Nansen. It is 100 years since Mr Nansen was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to help refugees following the First World War. It is also 100 years since he established the Nansen passport to help refugees who lacked internationally recognised identification papers,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.

In addition to Ms Merkel, four regional winners are also being recognised for their humanitarian work.

The Middle East: Dr Nagham Nawzat Hasan, Iraq. Dr Hasan is a gynaecologist and human rights defender. She is head of the Sheikhan Hospital and provides medical treatment and mental health care to Yazidi women and girls who have been subjected to sexual abuse. Dr Hasan is herself a Yazidi and had to flee her home in Mosul when it came under attack from ISIL in 2014.

The Americas: Doña Vicenta González, Costa Rica. At 73 years of age, Ms González has spent 50 years helping hundreds of refugees, in particular women coming from Nicaragua. Ms González has worked as a midwife and started an all-women’s organic cacao cooperative. She has worked to promote women’s rights and opportunities in society. Her efforts have been targeted towards survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

Africa: The Refugee Fire Brigade, Mauritania. The Brigade Anti-Feu (BAF) was set up by refugees in Mbera camp in Mauritania in 2017. There are currently 250 Malian refugees and Mauritanians in this voluntary fire brigade. They work to protect refugees, their communities and their pastures by creating firewalls and establishing networks of people who can send alerts in the event of a fire.

Asia: MeikSwe, Myanmar. The MeikSwe Myanmar Organisation was established in 2004 to provide health care for internally displaced people, particularly women and children and people living with HIV/AIDS. From 2020 to 2021, MeikSwe helped over 24 000 internal displaced people. It has also helped to provide education, emergency assistance in crisis situations, and training of local organisations in a number of regions in Myanmar.

Norway was involved in establishing the Nansen Refugee Award in 1954. The prestigious award is named after Fridtjof Nansen, the first High Commissioner for Refugees for the then League of Nations. It is sponsored by the governments of Norway and Switzerland and awarded annually by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

State Secretary Erling Rimestad will be attending this year’s award ceremony on 10 October. The ceremony will be streamed live on the UNHCR YouTube channel.