Photo: UNHCR.Photo: UNHCR

Aqeela Asifi Awarded the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award 2015

The Nansen award is named after Fridtjof Nansen, the Norwegian Polar explorer and first High Commissioner for Refugees for the League of Nations. Aqeela Asifi receives the award for her many years of educating Afghan refugee girls in Pakistan.

The Nansen Refugee Award recognizes extraordinary humanitarian work on behalf of refugees, internally displaced or stateless people.

Aqeela Asifi fled Afghanistan two decades ago and arrived at the Kot Chandana refugee village in Mianwali, Pakistan. Upon her arrival, she set out to improve what was then almost non-existent educational opportunities for girls in the village. As a schoolteacher, she has helped more than 1000 refugee girls complete their primary education. In addition, she has inspired others to open schools resulting in the six schools in the village taking 1550 pupils, 900 girls and 650 boys.

Fritdtjof Nansen was a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat and humanitarian. With the establishment of the “Nansen passport” he created the first legal instrument for the international protection of refugees. He received the Nobel Peace Price in 1922, for his role in organizing a release program for the famine victims in Russia. The Nansen refugee award was established in 1954. Previous winners include Eleanor Roosevelt, Edward Kennedy, Luciano Pavarotti and Médecins Sans Frontières.

The award ceremony will take place at UNCHR’s headquarter in Geneva 5 October.

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