Annie Lennox to perform at Nansen Refugee Award ceremony

News Stories, 3 September 2012

© Mike Owen
A portrait of UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador Annie Lennox, OBE.

GENEVA, September 3 (UNHCR) British singer/songwriter, campaigner and activist, Annie Lennox, OBE, will perform at this year's Nansen Refugee Award ceremony in Geneva on October 1, the UNHCR announced on Monday.

The UN refugee agency, which has presented the annual award since 1954, said the line-up would also include performances by classical singer and UNHCR Honorary Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador Barbara Hendricks and popular Swiss musician Bastian Baker.

A UNHCR press release added that 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Leymah Gbowee from Liberia, is also confirmed to attend the award ceremony, which will pay tribute to this year's Nansen winner. The award is given annually to an individual or organization in recognition of extraordinary and dedicated service to refugees.

"I am delighted to be performing at the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award ceremony," said Lennox, who is a UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador. "We often fail to recognize the real heroes of this world. The Nansen Refugee Award is an opportunity to pay tribute to those who work tirelessly for the humanitarian cause, often unrecognized and often at great risk to their own personal safety. I welcome this opportunity to pay tribute to the unwavering humanitarian spirit embodied in this award," she added.

Hendricks, who is marking 25 years as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, said: "The Nansen Refugee Award is an opportunity for the international community to focus their attention on the plight of refugees and to encourage international assistance and cooperation. I am honoured to help give a voice to the voiceless and I hope the award will inspire others to take action."

TV presenter Isabelle Kumar will preside over the award ceremony. She currently hosts Euronews' flagship debate programme, "On the Frontline."

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 United States 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 also includes a monetary prize of US$100,000 donated by the Swiss and Norwegian governments. Among them is Médecins sans Frontières, Handicap International and the UN Volunteers.

The 2012 Nansen Refugee Award laureate will be announced on September 18 and the prize will be handed over on October 1. The Nansen Refugee Award ceremony and reception is hosted in Geneva by UNHCR in cooperation with the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Swiss Confederation, the republic and canton of Geneva, the City of Geneva and the Norwegian government. The IKEA Foundation is also a generous contributor.