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Archive of Past Nansen Winners

Past Winners of the Nansen Award

More than 60 individuals, groups or organizations have won the Nansen Refugee Award since it was inaugurated in 1954. The first winner was Eleanor Roosevelt, the first chairperson of the UN Human Rights Commission and wife of legendary US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

She has been followed by an illustrious group of individuals, including French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, Tanzania's President Julius Nyerere, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, Graça Machel and late Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

A number of humanitarian organizations, and partners of UNHCR, have won the award, which has included a cash prize since 1979. Among them are the League of Red Cross Societies. Médecins sans Frontières, Handicap International and the UN Volunteers. In 1986, the Nansen went to the people of Canada - the only country to have received the award as a nation.

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1984 Lewis Hiller, Jeff Kass and Gregg Turay

Lewis Hiller, Jeff Kass and Gregg Turay of the merchant vessel USS Rose City, for their role in the rescue of 85 Indo-Chinese boat people drifting on the South China Sea during a storm in September 1983. Captain Hiller led and ordered the rescue operation. Kass and Turay dived into the sea to help some of the refugees who were in danger of drowning.


1983 President Julius Nyerere

President Julius Nyerere, under whose inspiring guidance the Tanzanian government constantly watched over the well-being of refugees and practised a liberal asylum policy, thereby providing a haven for thousands of uprooted people. His successors have continued an enlightened and generous policy towards refugees.


1982 Crown Princess Sonja of Norway

Crown Princess Sonja of Norway, who made exceptional efforts in raising awareness in Norway about refugees. The princess also visited reception and transit centres in areas where refugees were often facing life and death problems, such as on the Thai-Cambodian border. She became Queen in 1991, when her husband Crown Prince Harald succeeded King Olav V, who won the Nansen Award in 1961.


1981 Major-General Paul Cullen

Major-General Paul Cullen, for his work as head of the humanitarian aid and development organization, Austcare (Australian Care for Refugees). Maj-Gen Cullen gave vital encouragement to voluntary work for refugees in Australia and also promoted refugee aid in other areas, especially in Pakistan.


1980 Maryluz Schloeter Paredes

Social scientist Maryluz Schloeter Paredes won for her role as director general of the Venezuela branch of the International Social Service, a voluntary agency which assisted thousands of refugees from European and Latin American countries. Schloeter used her experience as a social scientist and her deep interest in youth problems, to help refugee children. She played a vital role in their rehabilitation at the Catia Community Centre in Caracas.


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