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Nansen Refugee Award

Established in 1954, the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award honours individuals, groups and organizations who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect refugees, as well as internally displaced and stateless people.

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The 2023 Global Laureate is Abdullahi Mire, a journalist and former refugee from Somalia who has championed the right to education while putting 100,000 books in the hands of displaced children and youth in Kenya.

Read more about the 2023 winners.

  • For multimedia content about each of the winners, please visit the media page.

The win is not for me alone. It is for all the volunteers I work with… It is for the children in the schools.

Abdullahi Mire, 2023 global laureate


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The ceremony

Abdullahi Mire and several regional winners came to Geneva to accept their awards at a special ceremony on 13 December 2023.


Watch the ceremony


Meet the 2023 Regional Winners

The 2023 Regional Winners of the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award were selected from hundreds of nominees for their outstanding work with refugees, internally displaced and stateless people.

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Americas: Elizabeth Moreno Barco

This human rights defender and peace builder has spent decades advocating for communities affected by armed internal conflict in Colombia – especially women and children, Afro-descendants, indigenous groups, and internally displaced people.

Read about her impressive work


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Asia-Pacific: Rohingya Storytellers

These four content creators – Abdullah Habib, Sahat Zia Hero, Salim Khan, and Shahida Win – use photography, video, and poetry to share vital information, document the experiences of stateless Rohingya refugees, and share their perspectives with the world.

Read their inspirational story


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Europe: Lena Grochowska and Władysław Grochowski

This Polish couple have marshalled their hotel chain and private foundation to provide shelter and livelihoods training to refugees, including many living with disabilities, and leveraged their influence in the business community to rally support for people forced to flee.

Read about their philanthropic work


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Middle East and North Africa: Asia Al-Mashreqi

This female leader is the founder and CEO of the Sustainable Development Foundation, which has provided humanitarian assistance to nearly 2 million individuals in Yemen, including refugees, returnees, internally displaced people, and host communities.

Read about her extraordinary work



Since 1954, more than 60 individuals, groups or organizations have received the Award for their extraordinary service to refugees, displaced and stateless people. 

My wish... is that the good examples will set a precedent, and that even more people will feel committed to protecting other people,” she said. “Because as we know, no one leaves their home lightly.

Angela Merkel, 2022 Global Laureate

Under Dr. Angela 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 selection committee said it was recognizing Dr. 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.

In her acceptance speech, Dr. Merkel acknowledged the huge efforts made by other countries such as Türkiye, Lebanon and Jordan, which continue to host large numbers of Syrian refugees, many of whom wanted to remain close to their home country.

Dr. Angela Merkel and the regional winners came to Geneva to receive their awards at a ceremony on 10 October 2022. You can watch a recording on YouTube.

Read more about the 2022 winners


Meet the 2022 Regional Winners

The 2022 Regional Winners of the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award were selected from hundreds of nominees for their outstanding work with refugees, internally displaced and stateless people.

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Africa Regional Winner: Mbera Fire Brigade

Founded by refugees, this all-volunteer firefighting group in Mauritania has extinguished more than 100 bushfires and planted thousands of trees to preserve lives, livelihoods and the local environment.

Read about their amazing work


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Americas Regional Winner: Vicenta González

Doña Vicenta, a former midwife, has provided nearly 50 years of service to displaced and other vulnerable people in Costa Rica. Along the way, she established a cacao cooperative to support refugees and host-community women, including survivors of domestic violence.

Read her inspirational story


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Asia Regional Winner: Meikswe Myanmar

This humanitarian organization assists communities in need, including internally displaced people, with emergency items, health care, education, and livelihoods opportunities – while striving to build the capacity of local organizations.

Read about their incredible story


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Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Winner: Dr. Nagham Hasan

This Iraqi gynaecologist provides medical and psychosocial care to girls and women who survived persecution, enslavement and gender-based violence at the hands of extremist groups in northern Iraq.

Read about her lifesaving work