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Nansen Refugee Award

Nansen Refugee Award
© UNHCR/F. Vittoz

For an outstanding service

Formerly known as the Nansen Medal, this award is named after the late Norwegian polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen, the first League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the 1922 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Instituted in 1954, the Nansen Refugee Award is given annually to an individual or an organization in recognition of extraordinary and dedicated service to refugees and is the most prestigious honour conferred by UNHCR. The award consists of a commemorative medal and a US$100,000 monetary prize donated by the governments of Norway and Switzerland.

Anybody can nominate someone or some organization for the Nansen Award, but a special committee selects the annual winner. Recipients have been chosen from many different areas. Whatever their creed, colour, age or profession, every winner put in extraordinary effort and time to help the forcibly displaced around the world.

The monetary prize that accompanies the Nansen Award is intended to enable the recipient to pursue refugee assistance projects drawn up in consultation with UNHCR. To date, so-called Nansen Fund projects have benefited refugees in places such as Cambodia, Botswana and Venezuela. They have contributed towards the setting up of a special ward for refugee children in Pakistan, the building of schools at Katumba in Tanzania and income-generation projects for people displaced by landmines in southern Lebanon.

More than 60 individuals, groups or organizations have won the Nansen Refugee Award since Eleanor Roosevelt became the first winner in 1954.

In 2013, the Nansen Refugee Award went to Sister Angélique, a Congolese nun who works in the remote north east region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with survivors of displacement and abuse by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Through her Centre for Reintegration and Development, Sister Angélique helps women and girls heal from the trauma and damage through psycho-social counseling, income-generation activities, skills development and literacy training.


Call for nomination for the Nansen Award

Nominate a person or an organization that has shown extraordinary dedication and service to the refugee cause. 

Fridtjof Nansen – a Man of Action and Vision

Learn on the pioneering work of Nansen, the very first High Commissioner of the League of Nations on behalf of refugees.

2013 winner: Sister Angélique

For her exceptional work in helping thousands of women and girls heal from the trauma of displacement and abuse and giving them a renewed hope for the future.

Past winners of the Nansen Award

The first Nansen Award winner was Eleanor Roosevelt. See who has followed her in receiving the Award.

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