'Respect refugee rights,' Angela Merkel tells world leaders

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“Respect the rights of refugees”, Angela Merkel tells world leaders

Angela Merkel said that Germany's reception of more than a million refugees represented an “unprecedented test of European values”.

< p class="e-p">Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged world leaders not to send people back to countries where they risk persecution on Monday after receiving the Nansen Prize from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Refugees (UNHCR).

Awarded for her determination to welcome people displaced by conflict while in office, Ms Merkel stressed that the rights of refugees must be respected .

No refugee should be sent back to their country if they risk persecution, she told a ceremony in Geneva (Switzerland).

UNHCR's selection committee praised Ms Merkel for her leadership, courage and compassion as Germany welcomed more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016, at its peak. of the migration crisis in Europe, triggered in particular by the war in Syria.

At the time, Merkel, who led Germany between 2005 and 2021, said the situation was a test of our European values ​​as rarely before, citing a humanitarian imperative.

The UN agency highlighted how it has called on its citizens to reject divisive nationalism, urging them to be compassionate and open-minded.

In presenting her with the Nansen medal, UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said she had shown vision, courage and fortitude .

You have shown a sense of morality which has not only guided your work and the actions of your country, but which has shown the way for many of us in Europe and around the world, added Mr. Grandi .

As the number of forcibly displaced exceeded 100 million for the first time this year, Mr Grandi told Mrs Merkel: Your example is and must be a example for other leaders.

Accepting the award in front of a crowd of around 500, the former Chancellor acknowledged that Germany faced enormous challenges when so many refugees arrived .

The woman who at the time told her fellow citizens Wir schaffen das (We'll get there) said she was proud that they proved her right.

I hope the good example will spread and I hope that in the future more people will feel compelled to provide shelter for those in need, she said. added. No one leaves their home country casually and without giving it a lot of thought.

Accepting her gold medal, Ms. Merkel demanded that the $150,000 prize (155 000 euros) that accompanies it is shared between four other laureates, who each already received $50,000 (51,500 euros).

Among them is Nagham Hasan, an Iraqi gynecologist who provided medical and psychosocial support to Yazidi girls and women who survived slavery, rape and other violence while at the hands of jihadist groups in northern Iraq.

Also on the list was the all-refugee fire brigade in Mbera, Mauritania, which extinguished more than 100 bush fires and planted thousands of trees.

Meikswe Myanmar, a humanitarian organization helping internally displaced people in Burma, in chaos since a putsch in February 2021, was also awarded. Just like Vincenta Gonzalez, who created a cocoa cooperative in Costa Rica to help refugees and Costa Rican women who host them.

The Nansen Prize, awarded each year, was created in 1954 in honor of the first UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Norwegian Arctic explorer and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930), to recognize outstanding achievements in the humanitarian field.

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