Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives UN Nansen Prize for Refugees

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2005-2021) won the Nansen Prize from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday for her determination to welcome asylum seekers when she was in office.

Recalling that Germany hosted more than 1,2 million refugees and asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016, at the peak of the migrant crisis fueled in particular by the war in Syria, the UNHCR selection committee praised "the leadership, courage and compassion" of the former Chancellor.

At the time, Ms. Merkel, who led Germany for 16 years, judged that the situation "is a test for our European values ​​as rarely before", pointing to "a humanitarian imperative".

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi hailed the former leader's determination to protect asylum seekers and uphold human rights and humanitarian principles.

"By helping over a million refugees to survive and rebuild, Angela Merkel has shown great moral and political courage," Grandi said in a statement.

“It was real leadership calling on the compassion of all of us, standing firm in the face of those who preached fear and discrimination. »

"She showed what can be achieved when politicians follow the right course and work to find solutions to global challenges rather than simply shifting responsibility to others," Grandi added.

The selection committee noted that in addition to protecting people fleeing war, Merkel was the driving force behind collective German efforts to receive and integrate refugees.

The Nansen Prize, awarded annually, was established in 1954 in honor of the first UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Norwegian Arctic explorer and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930), to recognize outstanding achievement in humanitarian field.

Angela Merkel will receive her prize and the 150.000 dollars (151.500 euros) which accompany it during a ceremony in Geneva (Switzerland) on October 10.

The Editorial Board (with AFP)

Image credit: Shutterstock / 360b

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