Angela Merkel wins the UN refugee prize
Former German chancellor Angela Merkel has won the UN refugee prize for her dedication to human rights and international law, it was announced on Tuesday afternoon.
Angela Merkel wins UN Nansen Award
After 16 years in office and one year into her retirement, Angela Merkel has won the UN Nansen Award for her dedication to helping refugees and asylum seekers. The UNHCR committee, who selected her as prize winner, pointed to her policies that welcomed 1,2 million refugees and asylum seekers who were displaced following the war in Syria.
At the beginning of the humanitarian crisis in 2015, the majority of refugees and asylum seekers fleeing the conflict decided to claim asylum in Germany. At a press conference in August 2015, following her policy decision to welcome more than 1 million refugees into Germany, Merkel famously said, “Wir haben so vieles geschafft - wir schaffen das” (“We have achieved so much - we can do this”). The phrase came to signify Germany’s “Willkommenskultur” (welcome culture) refugee policy at the time.
Upon presenting the award, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi praised Merkel for upholding 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.
“It was true leadership, appealing to our common humanity, standing firm against those who preached fear and discrimination. She showed what can be achieved when politicians take the right course of action and work to find solutions to the world’s challenges rather than simply shift responsibility to others,” he added.
What is the Nansen Award?
Merkel is the 60th winner of the Nansen Award, which was created in 1954 to honour the UN high commissioner for refugees, Norwegian Arctic explorer and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen. Following the First World War, Nansen helped hundreds of thousands of displaced refugees to return to their home countries or settle in their new countries of residence.
At the prize giving ceremony in Switzerland on October 10, Merkel will receive the award and 150.000 dollars prize money. The ceremony will be streamed live on the UNHCR YouTube channel.