Former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is being honored with this year’s refugee prize from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). “By committing herself to the protection and the possibility of a new start for such a large number of refugees, Angela Merkel has shown great moral and political courage,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on Tuesday.
Merkel was a “real leader” who “appealed to our common humanity and resolutely opposed specific positions that evoked fear and discrimination,” emphasized Grandi. Under her leadership, Germany took in more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers at the height of the Syrian crisis in 2015 and 2016 who were threatened by violence and persecution.
The prize, named after the Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat and humanist Fridtjof Nansen, has been awarded every year since 1954 by the UNHCR to a person, group or organization that has done an outstanding job in protecting refugees, internally displaced persons or stateless persons.
Merkel has shown what can be achieved “if politicians take the right path and try to find solutions to the challenges of the world instead of shifting responsibility onto others,” said the UN refugee commissioner. They have called on their fellow citizens to reject the divisive nationalism and instead be “confident and free, compassionate and cosmopolitan”.
The former Chancellor was “also a driving force behind Germany’s collective measures” to take in refugees and help them integrate into society through education, training and labor market programs, Grandi underlined.
The award will be presented at a ceremony in Geneva on October 10th. In addition to Merkel, four regional prize winners will be honored: environmentalists from Mauritania, a project from Costa Rica to protect displaced persons, a humanitarian organization from Myanmar and an Iraqi gynecologist who helps Yazidi women and girls. (AFP)
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