Oct 4, 2022 - World

Angela Merkel to receive UN refugee agency award

angela merkel

Angela Merkel in Berlin in Nov. 2021. Photo: Andreas Gora-Pool/Getty Images

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel will receive the United Nations refugee agency's top award for her efforts to accept more than 1 million refugees and asylum seekers during her time in office.

Driving the news: Inaugurated in 1954, each year the UNHCR's Nansen Refugee Award honors individuals, organizations and groups that that go "above and beyond" to protect refugees as well as stateless and internally displaced people.

The big picture: The UNHCR highlighted Merkel's decision to welcome more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers — primarily from Syria — in 2015 and 2016 and her efforts to expand Germany's resettlement program.

  • Merkel's open-door policy won her praise from many quarters but also helped fuel the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).
  • The award selection committee said it was recognizing Merkel's "leadership, courage and compassion in ensuring the protection of hundreds of thousands of desperate people," per a press release.
  • Merkel will receive the award at a ceremony in Geneva on Oct. 10.

What they're saying: "By helping more than a million refugees to survive and rebuild, Angela Merkel displayed great moral and political courage,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in the press release.

  • “It was true leadership, appealing to our common humanity, standing firm against those who preached fear and discrimination," he added.
  • "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.” 
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