Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wins UN Refugee Prize

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel won the prestigious Nansen Award from the United Nations Refugee Agency on Tuesday, receiving praise for her determination to protect asylum seekers while in office.

Referring to the more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers that Germany welcomed in 2015 and 2016, the UNHCR selection committee praised Merkel’s “leadership, courage and compassion” at the height of the migrant crisis mainly caused by the war in Syria.

At the time, the woman who led the German government for 16 years said the situation “tested our European values ​​as rarely before. It was no more and no less than a humanitarian imperative.”

The UN refugee agency highlighted how it had called on fellow Germans to reject divisive nationalism and instead urge them to be “compassionate and open-minded”.

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“By helping more than a million refugees survive and rebuild, Angela Merkel has shown great moral and political courage,” UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said in a statement, praising her determination to stand up for human rights, humanitarian principles and international law.

‘True leadership’

“It was true leadership, an appeal to our common humanity, steadfast against those who preached fear and discrimination,” he said.

The selection committee stressed that, in addition to protecting those forced to flee the war, Merkel was the driving force behind Germany’s collective efforts to accommodate them and help them integrate into society.

The annual Nansen Award was created in 1954 in honor of the first UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Norwegian Arctic explorer and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen, to mark outstanding work for refugees.

It honors individuals, groups or organizations for their duty to protect refugees and other displaced persons and stateless persons.

Merkel will receive her prize and the $150,000 (151,000 euros) in prize money at a ceremony in Geneva on October 10.

The ceremony also honors four regional winners, each receiving a $50,000 prize.

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