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Refugee advocate honored with prestigious Nansen award for dedication to educating displaced children

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has announced that Abdullahi Mire, a former refugee and journalist, has been chosen as the global laureate for the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award 2023. Mire has been recognized for his efforts to champion the right to education and for putting 100,000 books in the hands of refugee children in Kenya.

Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, praised Mire for his resourcefulness and tenacity in strengthening the quality of refugee education, stating, “Abdullahi Mire is living proof that transformative ideas can spring from within displaced communities.”

Born in Somalia and raised in the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya, Mire eventually resettled in Norway. However, his desire to serve his community led him back to Kenya, where he worked as a journalist and established the Refugee Youth Education Hub. This refugee-led organization has opened three libraries in the camps, providing access to donated books and expanding learning opportunities for tens of thousands of displaced children and youth.

Mire, 36, expressed that the win is not for him alone, but for all the volunteers he works with and the children in the schools.

In addition to Mire, several regional winners will also be honored this year:

  • Elizabeth Moreno Barco (Americas): a human rights defender advocating 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 2 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
  • 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 13 December at the Global Refugee Forum 2023. Hosted by journalist Ann Curry, the event will showcase the winners’ work and feature performances by Lous and the Yakuza, MIYAVI, and Ricky Kej. The ceremony will also be livestreamed.

The Nansen awards are made possible through support from the Governments of Norway and Switzerland, IKEA Foundation, and the City and Canton of Geneva. They are named after the Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen.

Journalists attending the Global Refugee Forum are invited to the Nansen ceremony, with separate registration required. A live feed will be available to broadcasters. For assistance, please contact nansen@unhcr.org. Multimedia content about the winners is available on Refugees Media and via the media page (from Nov 28). B-roll footage can also be downloaded.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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