Every year, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, gives the Nansen award to an individual, group or organisation in recognition of outstanding service to the cause of refugees, displaced or stateless people.
This year’s recipient is Sister Angélique Namaika, a Congolese nun who has shown exceptional courage and unwavering support for survivors of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The award ceremony will take place on Monday and nine IKEA co-workers have been invited to join as special guests. It’s an opportunity for them to get an inside look at our partnership with UNHCR and share what they learn with other co-workers.
We’re very lucky to have a letter from UNHCR’s Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees showing the wonderful things our co-workers will get to experience next week.
Dear colleagues at IKEA,
On behalf of the entire staff of the UN refugee agency, welcome to UNHCR Headquarters and to the 2013 Nansen Refugee Award Ceremony.
The Nansen Refugee Award has become a flagship event for UNHCR providing a platform to tell the public about the refugee cause. Established in 1954, it recognizes heroes whose tireless work directly improves the lives of refugees and displaced persons. The list of laureates includes both the famous – like Eleanor Roosevelt and Graca Machel, as well as previously unsung heroes. The one factor that unites them all is their dedication to displaced vulnerable people.
The Nansen Refugee Award is named after Fridtjof Nansen, the famous Norwegian polar explorer, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who went on to serve as the first High Commissioner for Refugees for the League of Nations. Nansen was a constant and vital supporter of the refugee cause in a time before UNHCR existed.
The work that UNHCR undertakes for tens of millions of uprooted people in over 125 countries would not be possible without the support of our partners, and we are proud to have the IKEA Foundation as one of our closest supporters. The support of the Foundation not only is transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of refugees in Ethiopia, Sudan, Bangladesh and other locations, making refugee camps a better and safer home for the many children, and their families, who live their lives in them; this support is also important for the Nansen Refugee Award programme, enabling us to honour those who deserve it.
On the evening of 30thSeptember, as part of a two-day UNHCR experience, you will attend the 2013 Nansen Award Ceremony; meet with the 2013 laureate, the CEO of the IKEA Foundation, Mr. Per Heggenes and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. António Guterres.
We hope that you find your visit both enjoyable and enlightening, and that you share your experience and understanding of the refugee cause with your fellow co-workers, friends and families through this blog.
On behalf of UNHCR, I am grateful for your personal commitment and would like to thank the IKEA Foundation for its continuous support to the world’s refugees.
I wish you a great experience,
T. Alexander Aleinikoff
Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR