Former German chancellor Angela Merkel receives top award for protecting Syrian refugees

Former German chancellor Angela Merkel is to receive a prestigious award for protecting refugees at the height of the crisis in Syria.

Ms Merkel is to be handed the 2022 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award after opening the doors of her country to those fleeing the war in Syria in the middle of the last decade.

Each year, the award – named after the Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen – is given to an individual, group or organisation who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to protect refugees, internally displaced or stateless people.

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Under Ms Merkel’s leadership, Germany welcomed more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016 – at the height of the conflict in Syria and amid deadly violence in other places.

Former German chancellor Angela Merkel and husband Joachim Sauer at an arts festival in Germany this summer.
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Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, praised Ms Merkel’s determination to protect asylum seekers and to stand up for human rights, humanitarian principles and international law.

“By helping more than a million refugees to survive and rebuild, Angela Merkel displayed great moral and political courage,” Mr Grandi said.

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

The selection committee said it was recognising 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.

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