Nansen Refugee Prize Awarded to Humanitarian Corridors
Humanitarian Corridors is the recipient of the 2019 Nansen Prize, awarded each year by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNCHCR) to individuals or organizations which distinguish themselves by the support they provide to the world’s refugees. Humanitarian Corridors, which is supported by the Waldensian Methodist Church and the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy along with the Sant’Egidio Community, Caritas and the Italian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, has facilitated bringing more than 2,600 people safely and legally to Italy. The following are excerpts from remarks at a press conference at UNHCR’s Rome office made by Luca Maria Negro, president of the FCEI, and Alessandra Trotta, moderator of the Waldensian/Methodist Church. The third person in this photograph is Claudio Cottatellucci who represented the Sant’Egidio Community at the press conference.
We believe the Humanitarian Corridors project can be an example of best practice for the whole of Europe. Indeed, in several parts of Europe there are already programs for refugees based on Humanitarian Corridors. We thank all those who make Humanitarian Corridors possible including those who made the choice to put their trust in Humanitarian Corridors and come to Italy.
But as we accept this award, we mainly think of those refugees who continue to die while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea as well as of those who are still held in Libyan detention centers. We hope to help put in place a large-scale European corridor which will bring all these people to safety. We must avoid more carnage in the Mediterranean Sea. Meanwhile, those compelled to take to the seas must be rescued and for this we continue to wholeheartedly support the valuable work of the NGOs which save lives. According to an ancient Jewish saying, whoever saves a life saves the whole world. The Nansen Prize is, for us, an incentive to continue to do better what our faith and moral code require us to do: to be the Good Samaritan who stops to help.
First awarded in 1954, the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award is conferred each year to a person or organization dedicated to helping those compelled to flee their homes. The award is named after Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian polar explorer and humanitarian who served from 1920 to 1930 as the first High Commissioner for Refugees for the League of Nations. The Nansen Award recalls Fridtjof Nansen’s perseverance and tenacity in the face of adversity.