UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi lauded Ms. Merkel for displaying “great moral and political courage” in helping so many survive and rebuild their lives, who had been forced to flee brutal fighting at home.
The former scientist, who led her country for 16 years, stepping down only last year, welcomed the desperate Syrians at the height of the conflict in 2015 and 2016, when other countries were turning their backs on them.
At that time, she described the situation as putting “our European values to the test as seldom before”.
“It was no more and no less than a humanitarian imperative”, she said at the time.
She called on her compatriots to reject divisive nationalism, urging them instead to be “self-assured and free, compassionate and open-minded”.
The UNHCR chief praised the former Chancellor’s determination to protect asylum-seekers and to stand up for human rights, humanitarian principles and international law.
“It was true leadership, appealing to our common humanity, standing firm against those who preached fear and discrimination,” he said.
“She showed what can be achieved when politicians take the right course of action and work to find solutions to the world’s challenges rather than simply shift responsibility to others”.
‘Leadership, courage and compassion’
Each year, the 2022 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award – named after the Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat and first High Commissioner for Refugees Fridtjof Nansen – is given to an individual, group or organization who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to protect refugees, internally displaced or Stateless people.
The selection committee recognized Ms. 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.