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Thursday, February 10, 2011

UNHCR Ireland Calls for Nominations for Prestigious Refugee Award

UNHCR Ireland Calls for Nominations for Prestigious Refugee Award

Dublin, January 25th 2011: What do former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt,

the people of Canada and Optometrist Akio Kanai have in common? All
three are previous winners of the prestigious Nansen Refugee Award,
conferred by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in recognition of
extraordinary and dedicated service to the cause of refugees. In the
lead up to the February 28th deadline for nominations for the award,
UNHCR Ireland is calling for nominations of individuals or groups in
Ireland who may be deserving of the Nansen Refugee Award.

Ms. Sophie Magennis Head of Office, UNHCR Ireland said “A nominee

does not need to be famous. They are frequently the unsung heroes
involved in work supporting refugees, forcibly displaced or stateless
people”. Speaking about the great contribution of people in Ireland to
the refugee cause, Ms Magennis said “There are many people who do
incredible work with refugees in Ireland and we are also aware of their
great contribution to supporting refugees around the world. We would
encourage the public or organisations to nominate some of these
people”. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres
believes it is the nominees’ ingenuity, originality and dedication
that are crucial factors, rather than the scale of the operation and the
number of its beneficiaries.

The Award is named after the late Norwegian polar explorer, Fridtjof

Nansen, who was the first League of Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees. In 2011, UNHCR will celebrate Fridtjof Nansen’s 150th
birthday. The Nansen Refugee Award boasts a long list of laureates from
very different backgrounds, including Eleanor Roosevelt, pianist Miguel
Angel Estrella of Argentina, Japanese optometrist Akio Kanai, Icelandic
student Svana Fridriksdottir and the people of Canada. Though from
diverse backgrounds, laureates share a common quality: their outstanding
commitment and selfless dedication to refugees.

The deadline for submissions is the 28th of February. People can

nominate a candidate by filling out the nomination form available online
at www.unhcr.org/nansen or by contacting the UNHCR Ireland office to
request one: (01) 631 4510.


Selection of Previous Winners of the Award:

2010 - British photojournalist Alixandra Fazzina received the Nansen

Medal for her dedication to documenting and publicising the consequences
of war through photography.

2008 - Former British Soldier Chris Clark and his team detected and

destroyed large quantities of unexploded ordnance and tens of thousands
of mines, including cluster bomblets.

2007 - Japanese optometrist Akio Kanai provided free eyesight tests and

handed out more than 100,000 pairs of spectacles to forcibly displaced
people, many of whom had lost their spectacles while fleeing their

2002 - Captain Arne Rinnan, she was in charge of the container ship MV

Tampa when it rescued 438 boat people in the Indian Ocean on August 26,
2001, despite the risk of substantial delays and a large financial loss
to the company.

1986 - The People of Canada, as a leading contributor to international

humanitarian and refugee aid programmes and as a country with one of the
best records for resettlement of refugees. They are the only country to
have received the award as a nation.

1972 - Svana Fridriksdottir, an Icelandic student who through a

day-long fund-raising campaign held in five Nordic countries raised US$6
million to help African refugees.

1960 - Christopher Chataway, Colin Jones, Trevor Philpott and Tim

Raison for their work in the World Refugee Year (WRY) of 1959 involving
45 countries and raised tens of millions of dollars. It is said to have
helped inspire the later campaign, Live Aid.

1954 - Eleanor Roosevelt won the first Nansen Award for her fight for

universal freedom of speech and religion, freedom from fear and want.
She chaired the committee that drafted and a
pproved the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.

Yolanda Kennedy

Associate External Relations Officer
UNHCR Ireland

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