Nansen Refugee Award Ceremony

Briefing Notes, 28 September 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 28 September 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR and its partner the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) are organizing the Nansen Refugee Award ceremony on Monday evening (October 01). This year's award winner is Somalia's Hawa Aden Mohamed, founder and director of the Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development (GEPCD). She is being honoured for transforming the lives of thousands of displaced women and girls in Somalia, many of whom are victims of rape.

The ceremony will be held at the Batiment des Forces Motrices in Geneva on Monday at 20.15, thanks to the support of the Geneva, Swiss and Norwegian authorities and the IKEA Foundation. Press are invited to attend this ceremony.

UNIGE and UNHCR panel discussion

Also on Monday, University of Geneva (UNIGE) and UNHCR will be organizing a conference in honour of the Nansen laureate at 12. 15 p.m. (Uni Mail, Salle MR380). The event includes a lecture by Bruno Geddo (UNHCR Somalia Representative) on Hawa Aden Mohamed's experiences followed by a panel discussion with 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee, UNHCR Honorary Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador Barbara Hendricks, and Elisabeth Rasmusson, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council. The debate will be chaired by Paola Gaeta (professor at UNIGE).

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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.

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