List of Nansen Refugee Award recipients

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Nansen Refugee Award
Awarded forOutstanding service to the cause of refugees
Presented byUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
First awarded1954
The top of the Nansen Medal reads: "Nestekjærlighet er Realpolitik" (English: Altruism is Practical Politics)

The Nansen Refugee Award is a medal issued annually by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to an individual, group, or organization in recognition of outstanding service to the cause of refugees, displaced, or stateless people.[1] The award was established by UNHCR the organizations first High Commissioner, Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart 1954 as a tribute to Fridtjof Nansen.[2] Fridtjof Nansen was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, explorer, and League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees[3] and the award was established in honour of his work to support refugees.[4] Van Heuven Goedhart felt that creating an award would increase the world's attention to the needs of refugees and increase global refugee aid.[2]

The inaugural awardee was Eleanor Roosevelt in 1954.[5] Every year, the prize is presented at a ceremony in the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices, in Geneva.[6][7] The medal is accompanied by a $150,000 US dollar prize.[3] The award was expanded in 2017 to include regional winners for Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Middle East, and Europe.[8]

In 2018, the award was described as the "other Nobel" prize by NPR.[9]

List of annual laureates[edit]

List of annual laureates
Year Image Laureate Country Office held, or rationale[a] Ref.
1954 Black and white image of Eleanor Roosevelt smiling Eleanor Roosevelt  USA as "the first chair of the UN Human Rights Commission" [10]
1955 Black and white image portret Koningin Juliana Queen Juliana  Netherlands as Queen of Netherlands [11]
1956 Dorothy D. Houghton  USA as "president of the Federation of Women's Clubs, delegate to the Geneva conferences of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration and director of the Office of Refugees Migration and Voluntary Assistance" [12]
van Heuven Goedhart wearing a dark jacket, white shirt, dark tie Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart  Netherlands United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (1951 to 1956); awarded posthuously [10]
1957 The League of Red Cross Societies   Switzerland for its work on behalf of the Hungarian refugees [13]
1958 David Hoggett  United Kingdom for work with Hungarian refugees in Austria [14]
Jacobsen portrait in which he is looking at the camera emotionless, his hair is slicked back to one side Pierre Jacobsen  France Deputy Director of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration; awarded posthuously [10]
1959 Oskar Helmer  Austria outstanding work on behalf of refuges...was Austrian Minister of the Interior in 1956 when 180,000 Hungarians took refuge in Austria [15]
1960 Chataway candidly smiling, wearing a pin-striped jacket, white shirt, dark tie. He is clean shaven and hair styled in side parting Christopher Chataway, Colin Jones, Trevor Philpott, Timothy Raison  United Kingdom For their roles in creating World Refugee Year, raising £9 million [16]
1961 King Olav dressed in military regalia, looking to the side with a row of medals pinned to his jacket, adorned with a sash and epaulettes King Olav V  Norway King of Norway [10]
1962 Tasman Heyes  Australia a tribute not only to an able and far-sighted friend of refugees, but also to the generosity of his countrymen [17]
1963 The International Council for Voluntary Agencies   Switzerland for support to refugees in Africa [10][18]
1964 May Curwen  United Kingdom her "whole life had been devoted to the service of those in need" [19]
Francois Preziosi & Jean Plicque  France For their refugee-support work in eastern Congo; awarded posthuously [20]
1965 Lucie Chevalley  France for "exceptional service she has rendered to the cause of refugees in France and in a number of other European countries during the past forty-five years" [21]
Ana Rosa Schlieper de Martínez Guerrero  Argentina for being "associated with many charitable societies and institutions and was a staunch supporter of human rights"; awarded posthuously [21]
Jørgen Nørredam  Denmark for "dedicated service to refugees in Europe, North, Central and East Africa for many years"; awarded posthuously [21]
1967 Prince Bernhard is wearing a dark jacket, with a carnation on it, a red tie, grey/brown shirt. He has a slight smile and is wearing spectacles. Prince Bernhard  Netherlands [10]
1968 Bernard Arcens  Senegal [10]
Charles H. Jordan  USA awarded posthuously [10]
1969 Princess Princep Shah    Nepal [10]
1971 Louise Holborn  USA [10]
1972 Swana Friðriksdóttir  Iceland [10]
1974 Helmut Frenz  Germany [10]
1975 James J. Norris  USA [10]
1976 Olav Hodne  Norway [10]
Marie-Louise Bertschinger   Switzerland awarded posthuously [10]
1977 The Malaysian Red Crescent Society logo, incorporating a red crescent on a white background The Malaysian Red Crescent Society  Malaysia MRC efforts in aiding thousands of refugees who arrived in Malaysia as a result of the conflict in Indo-China [10]
1978 Seretse Khama  Botswana [10]
1979 A candid head shot of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing who is looking neutral, wearing a dark jacket, dark tie and a white formal shirt with darker vertical stripes. Valéry Giscard d'Estaing  France [10]
1980 Maryluz Schloeter Paredes  Venezuela [10]
1981 Paul Cullen  Australia [10]
1982 Crown Princess Sonja outdoors, dressed in dark blue, with a gold neckless. Crown Princess Sonja  Norway [10]
1983 Candid shot of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere looking just past the camera, speaking, wearing a formal jacket. Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere  Tanzania [10]
1984 Lewis M. Hiller, Jeff Kass, and Gregg Turay  USA [10]
1985 Arms wearing a dark jacket, white shirt, dark tie and thick spectacles. Paulo Evaristo Arns  Brazil [10]
1986 Governor General Jeanne Sauvé dressed formally in a dark jacket. The People of Canada (accepted by Governor General Jeanne Sauvé)  Canada [10]
1987 King Carlos in a grey jacket, light blue shirt, yellow tie, standing indoors in front of the Spanish flag Juan Carlos I  Spain [10]
1988 Syed Munir Husain  Pakistan [10]
1991 Libertina Appolus Amathila in a red formal jacket, surrounded by people, looking up from a folded document. Libertina Appolus Amathila  Namibia [10]
Paul Weis  Austria awarded posthuously [10]
1992 Formal photograph of Richard von Weizsäcker wearing a jacket and tie with a black background. Richard von Weizsäcker  Germany [10]
1993 The logo of Médecins Sans Frontières, red stripes approximately appearing like a person. Médecins Sans Frontières   Switzerland [10]
1995 Graça Machel dressed formally in a black jacket, wearing a pearl neckless, speaking on a podium. Graça Machel  Mozambique [10]
1996 Handicap International's modern logo, with the words of the new name humanity & inclusion, the logo is a blue hand symbol with the word "Hi" in it. Handicap International  France [10]
1997 Joannes Klas  USA [10]
1998 Mustafa Dzhemilev dressed in a dark jacket, white shirt and blue tie, listening to a translation headset. Mustafa Dzhemilev  Ukraine [10]
2000 Jelena Silajdžić  Bosnia and Herzegovina [10]
Abune Paulos dressed in religious ceremonial garb including mitre that is red with an abundance of gold. He is holding a staff and golden processional cross. Abune Paulos  Ethiopia [10]
Mong Hay standing in a street. He is bald with a long white bear and wearing a collared, short sleeved shirt with a pen and smart phone in the pocket. Lao Mong Hay  Cambodia [10]
Miguel Angel Estrella candidly wearing a huge grin. Miguel Angel Estrella  Argentina [10]
The United Nations Volunteers very simple logo United Nations volunteers  United Nations [10]
2001 Pavarotti in a black bowtie, a white brimmed hat, a colourful scarf and a big smile. Luciano Pavarotti  Italy [10]
2002 The MV Tampa vessel, a large container-cargo ship with a red hull in a harbour. Arne Rinnan and the crew of the MV Tampa  Norway [10]
2003 Annalena Tonelli  Italy [10]
2004 Memorial Human Rights Centre  Russia [10]
2005 Marguerite Barankitse in a colourful skirt and headdress, and a red jacket. She is speaking on a stage as part of a panel discussion. Marguerite Barankitse  Burundi [10]
2006 Akio Kanai  Japan [10]
2007 Katrine Camilleri  Malta [10]
2008 Chris Clark & United Nations Mine Action Service  United Kingdom [10]
2009 Kennedy in a dark jacket and white short and dark tie looking at the photographer neutrally. Edward Kennedy  USA [10]
2010 Alixandra Fazzina  United Kingdom [10]
2011 Society for Humanitarian Solidarity  Yemen [10]
2012 Mohamed wearing a dark hijab and spectacles Hawa Aden Mohamed  Somalia [22]
2013 Angélique Namaika smiling in a village, wearing a green shirt and brown headdress. Angélique Namaika  Democratic Republic of the Congo [23]
2014 Butterflies with New Wings Building a Future  Colombia [24]
2015 Aqeela Asifi wearing a black head scarf and speaking on stage at a United Nation's event Aqeela Asifi  Afghanistan [25]
2016 The Hellenic Rescue Team crest, a black eagle in front of a red cross, over white mountains. Efi Latsoudi & Konstantinos Mitragas  Greece [26]
2017 Zannah Mustapha  Nigeria [27]
2018 Evan Atar Adaha  South Sudan [28][29]
2019 Azizbek Ashurov in 2022 Azizbek Ashurov  Kyrgyzstan [30]
2020 Mayerlín Vergara Pérez  Colombia [31]
2021 Jeel Albena Association for Humanitarian Development  Yemen [32]
2022 Formal portrait of Angela Merkel looking neutral in a red jacket with gold simple neckless Angela Merkel  Germany [33]

Lists of regional laureates[edit]

List of regional laureates
Year Region Image Laureate Rationale Country Ref.
2017 Africa CIYOTA  Uganda [34]
2017 Asia Bernard Wirth  Thailand [34]
2017 Americas Friar Tomas  Mexico [34]
2017 Europe Hej Främling!  Sweden [34]
2017 Middle East Ihsan Ezedeen  Syria [35]
2018 Asia Tuenjai Deetes shaking hands with a woman at an event, smiling, wearing a pink jacket and scarf. Tuenjai Deetes  Thailand [36]
2018 Americas Samira Harnish  USA [37]
2018 Europe Andreas Hollstein and the town of Altena  Germany [38]
2018 Middle East Reclaim Childhood  Jordan [39]
2019 Africa Evariste Mfaume  Democratic Republic of the Congo [40]
2019 Asia Alberto Cairo  Afghanistan [41]
2019 Americas Bianka Rodriguez  El Salvador [40]
2019 Europe Humanitarian Corridors  Italy [42]
2019 Middle East Abeer Khreisha  Jordan [40]
2020 Africa Sabuni Francoise Chikunda  Democratic Republic of the Congo [43]
2020 Asia Rozma Ghafouri  Afghanistan [44]
2020 Europe Tetiana Barantsova  Ukraine [43]
2020 Middle East Rana Dajani smiling in a pink hijab in a meeting room. Rana Dajani  Jordan [43]
2021 Africa Roukiatou Maiga  Burkina Faso [45]
Diambendi Madiega
2021 Asia Saleema Rehman  Afghanistan [45]
2021 Americas Santiago Ávila  Honduras [45]
2021 Europe Nikola Kovačević  Serbia [45]
2022 Africa Ahmedou Ag Albohary  Mauritania [46]
2022 Asia Naw Bway Khu  Myanmar [46]
2022 Americas Vicenta González  Nicaragua [46]
2022 Middle East Nagham Hasan  Iraq [46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Official rationale for the award are not always provided by UNHCR. In such circumstances, this column broadly outlines the relevant work of the recipient.


  1. ^ Nansen Refugee Award, UNHCR
  2. ^ a b Bador, Geneviève; Delarue, Olivier (1 April 2003). "The Nansen Refugee Award". Refugee Survey Quarterly. 22 (1): 48–51. doi:10.1093/rsq/22.1.48.
  3. ^ a b "Germany's Angela Merkel to receive UN prize". South China Morning Post. 2022-10-10. Retrieved 2023-02-22.
  4. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "About the Award". UNHCR. Retrieved 2023-02-27.
  5. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Our Winners". UNHCR. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  6. ^ "UNHCR - Frequently Asked Questions". United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
  7. ^ "The UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award 2021" (PDF). United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
  8. ^ "Past Laureates". UNHCR. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  9. ^ Cole, Diane (2018-10-17). "'Other Nobel' Goes To Amazingly Humble Surgeon In South Sudan". NPR. Retrieved 2022-08-04.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay "List of winners, 1954–2012" (PDF). UNHCR (in Spanish).
  11. ^ "Queen Juliana Awarded Nansen Refugee Medal". The New York Times. 14 May 1955. ProQuest 113439270.
  12. ^ "NANSEN MEDAL AWARDED; Honor for Aid to Refugees Is Won by Mrs. D.D. Houghton". The New York Times. 4 August 1956. ProQuest 113766448.
  13. ^ "Nansen Medal to Red Cross". The New York Times. 1 June 1957. ProQuest 114234768.
  14. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Nansen Medal Award Ceremony: Presentation Speech by Dr. Auguste R. Lindt, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, on the occasion of the award of the Nansen Medal for 1958 to Mr. David Hoggett". UNHCR. Retrieved 2023-02-27.
  15. ^ "Austrian Receives Refugee Medal". The New York Times. 14 October 1959. ProQuest 114886714.
  16. ^ "Sir Christopher Chataway - obituary". The Telegraph. 19 January 2014. ProQuest 1490419459.
  17. ^ "Australian Is Honored For Help to Refugees". The New York Times. 10 October 1962. ProQuest 116234069.
  18. ^ "Additif au Rapport du Haut Commissaire des Nations Unies pour les Réfugiés, 1963". UNHCR (in French). Retrieved 2023-02-27.
  19. ^ "British Woman Gets Nansen Medal". The New York Times. 21 October 1964. ProQuest 115912768.
  20. ^ Edwards, Adrian (19 August 2013). "UNHCR pays tribute to staff killed in the line of duty, marking World Humanitarian Day 2013" (Press release). UNHCR. ProQuest 1426180704.
  21. ^ a b c "Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees". UNHCR. Retrieved 2023-03-02.
  22. ^ Schlein, Lisa (18 September 2012). "Somali Humanitarian Wins Prestigious Nansen Refugee Award". Voice of America. Retrieved 2 December 2022.
  23. ^ "Congolese nun named winner of prestigious Nansen Refugee Award". UNHCR. 17 September 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2022.
  24. ^ "Nansen Refugee Award: Butterflies take wing to help others". United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 12 September 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2022.
  25. ^ "Aqeela Asifi: A life of teaching Afghan refugee girls". BBC. 16 September 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2022.
  26. ^ "The Hellenic Rescue Team". 6 September 2016. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
  27. ^ "Visionary Nigerian teacher wins UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award". 18 September 2017. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  28. ^ "South Sudanese surgeon wins 2018 Nansen Refugee Award". UNHCR. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  29. ^ "South Sudanese doctor wins prestigious UN prize for lifetime spent tending to refugees". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 25 September 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  30. ^ "'Tenacious' Kyrgyz lawyer and statelessness champion, wins prestigious UNHCR prize". UN News. October 2019. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  31. ^ Barber, Harriet (1 October 2020). "Woman who provides a safe haven for child trafficking victims is honoured by the UN". The Telegraph.
  32. ^ "Yemeni humanitarian organization wins Nansen Refugee Award". UN News. 29 September 2021. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  33. ^ "Angela Merkel awarded top UN refugee prize, for aid to Syrians fleeing war". UN News. 4 October 2022. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  34. ^ a b c d Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "2017 Winner". UNHCR. Retrieved 2022-08-04.
  35. ^ "Syrian doctor devotes his life to serve displaced, refugees and vulnerable". UNHCR Syria. Retrieved 2022-08-18.
  36. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Rights campaigner fights for Thailand's stateless peoples". UNHCR. Retrieved 2022-08-04.
  37. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Samira Harnish, Americas region finalist for the 2018 Nansen Refugee Award". UNHCR. Retrieved 2022-08-04.
  38. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "German mayor sets example of how to welcome refugees". UNHCR. Retrieved 2022-08-04.
  39. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Nansen Award finalist gives girls in Jordan a sporting chance". UNHCR. Retrieved 2022-08-04.
  40. ^ a b c Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "UNHCR names Nansen Refugee Award regional winners". UNHCR. Retrieved 2022-08-04.
  41. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "UNHCR names Nansen Refugee Award regional winners". UNHCR. Retrieved 2022-08-04.
  42. ^ "2019 Nansen Refugee Award for Europe goes to Humanitarian Corridors - Vatican News". 2019-09-18. Retrieved 2022-08-04.
  43. ^ a b c Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "UNHCR names Nansen Refugee Award regional winners". UNHCR. Retrieved 2022-08-04.
  44. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "UNHCR names Nansen Refugee Award regional winners". UNHCR. Retrieved 2022-08-04.
  45. ^ a b c d "Meet the Nansen Award winners who stayed and delivered in 2020". Retrieved 2022-08-04.
  46. ^ a b c d "Merkel says Nansen prize honours all those who welcome refugees". 11 October 2022. Retrieved 2 December 2022.

External links[edit]