Nansen Refugee Award to Edward Kennedy

Ted Kennedy. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Nansen Refugee Award for 2009 is to go to the recently deceased Senator Edward Kennedy, for his work as a “forceful advocate” for those with “no voice and no rights”, according to the prize announcement. The Nansen Award Ceremony will take place on October 28 in the US capital, Washington D.C.

In announcing the 2009 Nansen Award on September 15, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said:  “Senator Kennedy stood out as a forceful advocate for those who suddenly found themselves with no voice and no rights. Year after year, conflict after conflict, he put the plight of refugees on the agenda and drove through policies that saved and shaped countless lives.”

The prize will be awarded posthumously at an award ceremony in Washington, but Edward Kennedy was informed of the decision to award him the prize two months before his death on August 24.

Edward Kennedy was Senator for more than 45 years, and played an active role in advancing legislation that made it possible for persecuted groups to be granted residence in the US.

The Nansen Refugee Award has been conferred annually by the UNHCR since 1954. The prize is given to individuals or organisations that have shown extraordinary and dedicated service to refugees or otherwise advocated their cause. The Nansen prize amount is USD 100 000, which is donated jointly by Norway and Switzerland. The first person to win the prize was also an American citizen, Eleanor Roosevelt.

The award is named after Fridtjof Nansen, to commemorate his efforts for refugees following the First World War, and his role as League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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