The most recent ex-German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has won the United Nations refugee agency’s Nansen Award. She was handed the esteemed award, in addition to high commendation, for her work and determination to protect asylum seekers while in office.
One of the highlights was that in her time as chancellor, between 2015 and 2016, Germany welcomed about 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers. This was at the height of migrant crisis fueled by the war in Syria. Hence, the UNHCR selection committee acknowledged the former German chancellor’s “leadership, courage and compassion.”
It was was said of Madam Angela Merkel who led Germany for sixteen years that she “put our European values to the test as seldom before. It was no more and no less than a humanitarian imperative.”
Filippo Grandi, the UNHCR chief, hailed Merkel’s determination to protect asylum seekers and to stand up for human rights, humanitarian principles and international law. He said in a statement, “By helping more than a million refugees to survive and rebuild, Angela Merkel displayed great moral and political courage. It was true leadership, appealing to our common humanity, standing firm against those who preached fear and discrimination.”
Chancellor Merkel will be receiving her award and the prize money of $150,000 at a ceremony in Geneva on Monday, October 10, where four regional winners will also be honoured.
The Nansen Award was created in 1954 in honour of the first UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Norwegian Arctic explorer and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen, to mark his outstanding work on behalf of refugees. It is awarded annually.