Abdullahi Mire is 2023 Nansen Award winner

The 2023 Nansen Award Winner is Abdullahi Mire, a former refugee, who was resettled in Norway

Abdullahi Mire

Refugee activist and journalist Abdullahi Mire, 36, who is the Global Laureate of the 2023 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award, poses for a photograph in November 2023 in one of the libraries he established in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camps.

Marit Fosse

In the United Nations press briefing on Nov. 28, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, (UNHCR) announced that Abdullahi Mire—a former refugee and journalist who has championed the right to education while putting 100,000 books in the hands of refugee children in Kenya—will be the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award’s 2023 global laureate.

“Abdullahi Mire is living proof that transformative ideas can spring from within displaced communities,” declared Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “He has shown great resourcefulness and tenacity in strengthening the quality of refugee education.”

Born in Somalia, Mire grew up in the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya. He was eventually resettled to Norway, but a yearning to serve his community drew him back. He found work in Kenya as a journalist and set up the Refugee Youth Education Hub, a refugee-led organization that has opened three libraries in the camps – stocked with donated books – and expanded learning opportunities for tens of thousands of displaced children and youth.

“The win is not for me alone,” said Mire, 36. “It is for all the volunteers I work with… It is for the children in the schools.”

Several regional winners will also be honoured this year: let us briefly mention. •   Elizabeth Moreno Barco (Americas), a human rights defender who advocates for communities affected by armed internal conflict in Colombia;

•   Asia Al-Mashreqi (Middle East & North Africa), founder and chairperson of the Sustainable Development Foundation, which has assisted nearly two million individuals in Yemen affected by conflict;

•   Abdullah Habib, Sahat Zia Hero, Salim Khan and Shahida Win (Asia-Pacific), four Rohingya storytellers documenting the experiences of stateless Rohingya refugees; and

•   Lena Grochowska and Władysław Grochowski (Europe), a Polish couple whose hotel chain and foundation provide shelter and training to refugees.

The awards will be presented at a ceremony in Geneva on Dec. 13 at the Global Refugee Forum 2023.

The awards are made possible through support from the Governments of Norway and Switzerland, IKEA Foundation, and the City and Canton of Geneva.

Avatar photo

Marit Fosse

Marit Fosse trained as an economist from Norwegian school of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen (Norges Handelshøyskole NHH) and then earned a doctorate in social sciences. She is the author of several books. Nansen: Explorer and Humanitarian, co-authored with John Fox, was translated into Russian/Armenian/French. In addition, Fosse is the editor of International Diplomat/Diva International in Geneva, a magazine set up 20 years ago for diplomats and persons working in the international organizations in Geneva but also elsewhere. In her free time, Fosse is an accomplished painter.