Dr Angela Merkel has received the UNHCR Refugee Nansen Award for her work protecting refugees at the height of the Syrian crisis.
The Former Federal Chancellor of Germany, Dr Angela Merkel, has received the UNHCR Refugee Nansen Award for her work protecting refugees and asylum seekers.
The UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award honours individuals, groups and organisations who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect refugees and displaced and stateless people.
Under then Federal Chancellor Merkel’s leadership, Germany welcomed more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers from 2015 and 2016, at the height of the conflict in Syria and amid deadly violence in other places.
“It was a situation which put our European values to the test as seldom before. It was no more and no less than a humanitarian imperative,” Dr Merkel said at the time.
As well as protecting people forced to flee war, persecution and human rights abuses, the former Chancellor was the driving force behind Germany’s integration efforts, helping refugees access education, training and employment.
Mastura, an Afghan refugee, is among those who have restarted their lives thanks to the programs established under Dr Merkel’s leadership.
Mastura arrived in Germany in 2013 and gave birth to her third child while living in a shelter for asylum seekers. Mastura’s family found an apartment near the VW Kassel plant in central Germany and, after mastering the language, she discovered VW’s year-long internship for refugees. She now works as a forklift driver at the VW Kassel plant.
Four regional winners have also been honoured. The winners were selected from hundreds of nominees for their outstanding work with refugees.
In Africa, the regional winner is Mbera Fire Brigade. This all-volunteer refugee firefighting group in Mauritania has extinguished more than 100 bushfires and planted thousands of trees to preserve lives, livelihoods and the local environment.
In the Americas, the regional winner is Vicenta González, a former midwife who has provided nearly 50 years of service to displaced and other vulnerable people in Costa Rica. Along the way, she established a cacao cooperative to support refugees and local women, including survivors of domestic violence.
Meikswe Myanmar is the winner for Asia and the Pacific. Meikswe Myanmar is a humanitarian organisation that assists communities in need, including internally displaced people, with emergency items, healthcare, education and livelihood opportunities.
The regional winner in the Middle East and North Africa is Dr Nagham Hasan, an Iraqi gynaecologist providing medical and psychosocial care to Yazidi girls and women who survived persecution, enslavement and gender-based violence at the hands of extremist groups in northern Iraq.
Dr Angela Merkel accepted the 2022 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award at a special ceremony in Geneva earlier this month, saying the prize was in honour of “the countless people who lent a hand” when large numbers of refugees arrived in Europe in 2015 and 2016.
Dr. Merkel thanked each of the regional winners for their contributions and said she would donate the US$150,000 prize money to their organisations to help support their work.
The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.