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UN grants Nansen Refugee Award to former German chancellor Merkel

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-10-05 20:11

Angela Merkel. [Photo/Agencies]

GENEVA -- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday announced that former German chancellor Angela Merkel will receive the 2022 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award.

The selection committee said it was recognizing Merkel's "leadership, courage and compassion in ensuring the protection of hundreds of thousands of desperate people" as well as her efforts to find "viable long-term solutions" for those seeking safety, according to a statement issued on Tuesday by the UN refugee agency.

Under Merkel's leadership, Germany welcomed more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016 -- at the height of the conflict in Syria and amid deadly violence in other places, the UNHCR said in the statement.

At that time, the then chancellor called on her fellow Germans to reject divisive nationalism and urged them instead to be "self-assured and free, compassionate and open-minded", the UNHCR said.

Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, praised Merkel's determination to protect asylum-seekers and to stand up for human rights, humanitarian principles and international law. "By helping more than a million refugees to survive and rebuild, Angela Merkel displayed great moral and political courage," Grandi said.

As well as protecting people forced to flee war, persecution and human rights abuses, the former chancellor was the driving force behind Germany's collective efforts to receive them and help them integrate into society, through education and training programs, employment schemes and labor market integration, according to the statement.

UNHCR's Nansen Refugee Award recognizes extraordinary humanitarian work on behalf of refugees, internally displaced or stateless people.

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