The 2014 Nansen Refugee Award winners, Colombian Butterflies. Photo: Luca Zanetti

Help us Find a Hero

Published 06. Apr 2016
Throughout our work we meet people worthy of the Nansen Refugee Award, people and groups who have gone above and beyond on behalf of refugees. The nominations for the 2016 Nansen Refugee Award are now open, who would you nominate?

Once a year, we honour a person or a group who have done extraordinary work helping refugees.

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 UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Anybody can nominate someone or some organization for the Nansen Award. Whatever their creed, colour, age or profession, every winner put in extraordinary effort and time to help the forcibly displaced around the world.

The award consists of a commemorative medal and a US$ 100,000  monetary prize donated by the governments of Norway and Switzerland, and are to be used to support a refugee project of the Laureate’s choice.

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

Facts about the Nansen Refugee Award

The Nansen Award was instituted by G. H. van Heuven Goedhart, the first UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in 1954.

Van Goedhart hoped the prize would promote greater knowledge and interest in the refugee cause and make it easier to raise funds for the relief work.

The prize consists of a commemorative medal and a 100,000 US dollars monetary prize provided by the governments of Switzerland and Norway. The winner can donate the money to a cause of his or her choice.

Earlier winners include Elenor Roosevelt, The International Red Cross, Edward Kennedy, Médecins sans Frontières, and the People of Canada (full list of the previous winners below).

Full list of the Winners:

2015: Aqeela Asifi from Pakistan.

2014: Colombian Butterflies.

2013: Sister Angélique Namaika from Democratic Republic of the Congo.

2012: Hawa Aden Mohamed from Somalia.

2011: Nasser Alim Ali Al-Hamairy and the Society for Humanitarian Solidarity (SHS) from Yemen.

2010: Alixandra Fazzina from UK.

2009: Edward Moore Kennedy from USA.

2008: UNMACC & 1000 Lebanese civilian deminers in South Lebanon.

2007: Ms. Katrine Camilleri from Malta.

2006: Dr. Akio Kanai from Japan.

2005: Ms. Marguerite Barankitse from Burundi.

2004: Memorial Human Rights Centre from Russian Federation.

2003: Dr. Annalena Tonelli from Italy.

2002: Captain Arne F. Rinnan and The Crew of the M/V “Tampa” (Norway) and Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA from Norway.

2001: Maestro Luciano Pavarotti from Italy.

2000: Ms. Jelena Silajdzic from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Abune Paulos from Ethiopia, Mr. Lao Mong Hay from Cambodia, and Mr. Miguel Angel Estrella from Argentina.

1998: Mr. Mustafa Dzemiley from Ukraine.

1997: Sister Joannes Klas from USA.

1996: Handicap International.

1995: Ms. Graça Machel from Mozambique.

1993: Médecins sans Frontières.

1992: Dr. Richard von Weizsäcker the President of the Federal Republic of Germany.

1991: Dr. Paul Weis (posthumously) from Austria, and Dr. Libertina Appolus Amathila from Namibia.

1988: Mr. Syed Munir Husain of Pakistan.

1987: H.M. Juan Carlos I, King of Spain.

1986: The People of Canada.

1985: Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, Archbishop of Sao Paulo  from Brazil.

1984: Captain Lewis M Hiller, Mr. Jeff Kass, and Mr. Gregg Turay from USA.

1983 H.E. Julius Nyerere from Tanzania, and President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

1982: H.R.H. Crown Princess Sonja of Norway

1981: Major General Paul A Cullen from Austria.

1980: Mrs. Maryluz Schloeter Paredes from Venezuela.

1979: Mr. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, President of the French Republic from France

1978: H.E. Sir Seretse Khama, KBE from Botswana

1977: The Malaysian Red Crescent Society

1976: Dr. Olav Hodne from Norway and Ms. Marie-Louise Bertschinger (posthumously) from Switzerland.

1975: Mr. James J Norris from USA

1974: Mr. Bishop Helmut Frenz from Chile

1972: Ms. Svana Fridriksdottir from Iceland

1969: H.R.H. Princess Princep Shah of Nepal

1968: Mr. Bernard Arcens from Senegal and Mr. Charles H Jordan (posthumously) from USA.

1967: H.R.H. Prince Bernard of the Netherlands

1966: Mr. Jorgen Norredam (posthumously) from Denmark.

1965: Mrs. Lucie Chevalley from France and Mrs. Ana Rosa Schliepper de Martinez Guerrero (posthumously) from Argentina.

1964: Dame May Curwen, DBE from UK, Mr. Fançois Preziosi (posthumously) from Italy, and Mr. Jean Plicque (posthumously) from France.

1963: The International Council for Voluntary Agencies (ICVA)

1962: Sir Tasman Heyes, CBE from Austria

1961: H.M. King Olav V of Norway

1960: Mr. Christopher Chataway, Mr. Colin Jones, Mr. Trevor Philpott, and Mr. Timothy Raison from UK.

1959: Mr. Oskar Helmer from Austria

1958: Mr. David Hogget from UK and Mr. Pierre Jacobsen (posthumously) from France.

1957: The League of Red Cross Societies

1956: Mrs. Dorothy D Houghton from USA, Dr. Gerrit J van Heuven Goedhart, first United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, from Netherlands

1955: H.M. Queen Juliana of the Netherlands

1954: Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt from USA.