Announcement: Somalia's Hawa Aden Mohamed awarded 2012 Nansen Refugee prize

Briefing Notes, 18 September 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 18 September 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is pleased to announce this morning that Hawa Aden Mohamed, the founder and director of the Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development (GECPD) in Puntland, north-eastern Somalia, is the winner of the 2012 Nansen Refugee Award. Hawa Aden Mohamed is a former refugee who chose to return to Somalia in 1995. There, she launched an ambitious education programme to assist people uprooted by Somalia's persistent conflict and recurring droughts. Her visionary work has transformed the lives of thousands of displaced women and girls, who are among the most vulnerable members of Somali society and in many cases are grappling with the trauma of marginalization, abuse and rape.

Hawa Aden Mohamed is being given this award in recognition of her exceptional, tireless and inspiring humanitarian work for Somalia's refugee and displaced girls and women, work performed under incredibly difficult and challenging circumstances.

A few days ago, Hawa Aden Mohamed was hospitalized for surgery. She is recovering, and for this reason her availability for media in connection with today's announcement of the prize is affected. We hope for your understanding. We hope that she will be sufficiently recovered and well to attend the Nansen Award prize ceremony in Geneva, which is scheduled for October 1st.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Kenya, UNHCR Somalia Office: Andy Needham on mobile +254 733 120 931
  • In Geneva: Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 557 91 20
  • Melissa Fleming on number +41 79 557 91 22
  • Andrej Mahecic on mobile +41 79 200 7617
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The Nansen Refugee Award

The Nansen Refugee Award

Given to individuals or organizations for outstanding service in the cause of refugees.

How UNHCR Helps Women

By ensuring participation in decision-making and strengthening their self-reliance.

UNHCR's Dialogues with Refugee Women

Progress report on implementation of recommendations.

Women

Women and girls can be especially vulnerable to abuse in mass displacement situations.

Nansen Refugee Award Presentation Ceremony

More than 400 people attended the annual presentation in Geneva in October 1, 2012 of UNHCR's Nansen Refugee Award. This year's inspirational winner from Somalia, Hawa Aden Mohamed, was unable to attend for health reasons, but she sent a video message. In the former refugee's absence, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres presented the award and Nansen medal to her sister, Shukri Aden Mohamed.

The 63-year-old humanitarian, educator and women's rights advocate, widely known as "Mama" Hawa, was honoured for her extraordinary service - under extremely difficult conditions - on behalf of refugees and the internally displaced, mainly women and girls but also including boys.

Above all she has been recognized for her work - as founder and director of the Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development in Somalia's Puntland region - in helping to empower thousands of displaced Somali women and girls, many of whom are victims of rape. The centre provides secondary education as well as life skills training.

The packed event also included an address by Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, co-winner of last year's Nobel Peace Prize, and a video tribute to Mama Hawa as well as performances from UNHCR Honorary Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador and classical singer, Barbara Hendricks, and up and coming Swiss musician Bastian Baker.

Nansen Refugee Award Presentation Ceremony

2012 Nansen artists line-up

Singer, songwriter, campaigner, activist, and UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador Annie Lennox, OBE will perform at this year's United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Nansen Refugee Award being held in Geneva on October 1st and broadcast internationally.

The line-up, which also includes classical singer and UNHCR Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador Barbara Hendricks, Swiss star Bastian Baker and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Madam Leymah Gbowee, will pay tribute to this year's Nansen Refugee Award laureate.

TV presenter Isabelle Kumar will be the Master of Ceremonies on 1st October. The winner of this year's Nansen Refugee Award will be announced in advance of the award ceremony at 10:30 am on September 18 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

2012 Nansen artists line-up

2008 Nansen Refugee Award

The UN refugee agency has named the British coordinator of a UN-run mine clearance programme in southern Lebanon and his civilian staff, including almost 1,000 Lebanese mine clearers, as the winners of the 2008 Nansen Refugee Award.

Christopher Clark, a former officer with the British armed forces, became manager of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre-South Lebanon (UNMACC-SL) n 2003. His teams have detected and destroyed tons of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and tens of thousands of mines. This includes almost 145,000 submunitions (bomblets from cluster-bombs) found in southern Lebanon since the five-week war of mid-2006.

Their work helped enable the return home of almost 1 million Lebanese uprooted by the conflict. But there has been a cost – 13 mine clearers have been killed, while a further 38 have suffered cluster-bomb injuries since 2006. Southern Lebanon is once more thriving with life and industry, while the process of reconstruction continues apace thanks, in large part, to the work of the 2008 Nansen Award winners.

2008 Nansen Refugee Award

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