Zannah Mustapha Wins 2017 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

Zannah Mustapha, a Nigerian lawyer and advocate for the rights of displaced children growing up amid violence in north-eastern Nigeria to get a quality education, is the 2017 winner of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Nansen Refugee Award.

Zannah Mustapha helped to secure the release of dozens of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014.

The Nansen Refugee Award, which is bestowed by the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), has been won in the past by Eleanor Roosevelt and Luciano Pavarotti, and the winner receives $150,000 to fund a project complementing their existing work.

In the words of Zannah Mustapha, the 2017 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Winner:

“I am exceedingly happy and motivated to do more … I will scale up my efforts.

Some of the students that started in my school have graduated, and they are now going into university – I can use this money to help them complete the cycle.”

Zannah Mustapha is the founder of two schools which offer free education, meals, uniforms and healthcare to its pupils, and even enrol children born to Boko Haram fighters to learn alongside those orphaned by the Islamist group’s eight-year insurgency. Those orphaned by the conflict on both sides are welcomed into Mustapha’s classrooms as a sign of the reconciliation he hopes to achieve in the region.

His first venture, Future Prowess Islamic Foundation School, opened a decade ago and was the only school in Borno state in northeast Nigeria to remain open when Boko Haram in 2009 began their brutal campaign to carve out an Islamic state. Future Prowess has grown from 36 students to 540. Desperate for an education, thousands more children have added their names to its waiting list. In 2016, his second school opened just a few kilometres away from the first. Eighty-eight children, all of whom have fled conflict in the region, walk through its classroom doors each day.

The Islamist militants have killed hundreds of teachers and forced more than 1,000 schools to shut, leaving tens of thousands of children without an education, aid agencies say.

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi hailed Mustapha for helping to foster peace and rebuild communities devastated by violence. According to Grandi:

“Education is one of the most powerful tools for helping refugee children overcome the horrors of violence and forced displacement.”

Mustapha’s work also includes helping to negotiate the release of more than 100 of the 220-odd girls snatched from their school in Chibok in April 2014 in the biggest publicity coup of Boko Haram’s insurgency that prompted global outrage and the international campaign #bringbackourgirls.

The return of 82 of the girls in May marked the second group release of the Chibok girls by the militants – with both deals brokered by Switzerland and the Red Cross and mediated by Mustapha – after a group of 21 were freed in October last year.

A few others have escaped or been rescued but about 113 of the girls are believed to be still held captive by Boko Haram.

The Islamist group has killed at least 20,000 people and uprooted more than 2.7 million across the Lake Chad region and sparked one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world, according to aid agencies.

Despite being driven back from much of the territory it held, Boko Haram has ramped up attacks this year, targeting civilians and camps for the displaced with suicide bombings.

More recently, Mustapha donated acres of his own land to 800 displaced families. Building a water irrigation pump and shelter, these families are now able to support themselves and sell their produce at local markets.

The UNHCR Nansen Refugees award was established in 1954 and awarded annually to an individual, group or organization in recognition of outstanding service to the cause of refugees, displaced and stateless persons.

The award includes a Commonwealth medal and monetary prize of $100,000 donated by the governments of Norway and Switzerland to begin a project in consultation with UNHCR, to complement the laureate’s existing work.

Prophet T. B. Joshua Receives Paraguay Order of Merit Honour [2017]

Prophet T.B. Joshua has been presented with the Paraguay Order of Merit, Paraguay’s Highest Honour by the government of Paraguay in recognition of his leadership and humanitarian works. His works, which are changing lives, changing nations and changing the world. In addition to this honour of privilege, the Board and Members of the Asuncion Municipality declared Prophet T.B. Joshua as an Illustrious visitor, sealing this off with the presentation of Honour of Illustrious Visitor and the Key of The City of Asuncion to him.

The Paraguay Crusade with TB Joshua, taking place from August 11-12, 2017 at the Estadio de los Defensores del Chaco in the Paraguayan capital city of Asuncion, is to only bring divine healing, redemption, restoration and deliverance to the sick, fallen, weak and deprived but also bring the people of Paraguay and South America closer to God through the works of God’s Word.

Temitope Balogun Joshua (born June 12, 1963), commonly referred to as T. B. Joshua, is a Nigerian Pastor, televangelist and philanthropist. He is the leader and founder of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN), a Christian organisation that runs the Emmanuel TV television station from Lagos, Nigeria.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Receives 2017 Aspen Institute Madeleine Albright Award

Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been awarded with the 2017 Aspen Institute Madeliene Albright award during the 2017 Aspen Institute Madeleine K. Albright Global Development Lecture.

At the lecture event Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala spoke on how technology – from biometrics to drones, to life-saving vaccines supported by Gavi, to geospatial data – is enabling development and development-spurring technology.

Mrs. Iweala, former Finance Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria will be the fifth person to receive such award.

The Aspen Institute Madeleine K. Albright Global Development Lecture recognizes an exceptional individual whose vision has provided breakthrough thinking to tackle the challenges of global development.

Dr. Ngozi is the recipient of numerous awards including recognition as one as one of Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women in the World, Foreign Policy’s 100 Global Thinkers, and Fortune’s 50 Greatest World Leaders. She is currently Senior Advisor at Lazard, and Chair of the board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.

Rebecca Dali Wins 2017 Sérgio Vieira de Mello Award

Dr. Rebecca Dali, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI), has won the 2017 Sérgio Vieira de Mello award in recognition of her humanitarian services in North-East Nigeria. The award has a symbolic cash prize of about 6.6 million.

Reacting to the award, Dr. Rebecca Dali said that the award had come to assuage the sadness for the disappearance of her son in the 2011 Jos crises.

In her words:

“Indeed, the award is like a miracle to me because I never expected it.

I feel as if I do not deserve any praises for the work I do because it is service to humanity and to my people.

I dedicate this award to God almighty, all my donors including the UNHCR, who have enabled me to be internationally visible.’’

According to Mr. Hanson Tamfu, the External Relations Officer, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Nigeria, the award is conferred biennially, to draw the world’s attention to the unnoticed efforts by individuals, groups and organisations “doing something special and unique to reconcile people and parties in conflict’’.

In his award statement for Dr. Dali, he said:

“The jury of the Sergio Vieira de Mello Award has decided to grant its 2017 Award to you.

This is in recognition of the courageous efforts of you and the CCEPI to promote the re-integration of returning women abducted by the Boko Haram group back into their local communities.

As the communities resisted their re-integration, your negotiation skills and reconciliation efforts played an important role in their successful re-integration.’’

According to him, Dali was the first humanitarian actor to set up a livelihood programme for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and returnees in Madagali and Michika local government areas of Adamawa.

He said that the centre took the risk of reaching areas considered inaccessible and dangerous at the peak of the Boko Haram activities at a time when other NGOs could not.

The World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is usually celebrated on Aug. 19 to honour the 22 aid workers who died bombing of the UN headquarters in Bagdad in 2003, among whom was Sergio Vieira de Mello.

It is also a day to commemorate all those who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian workers around the world.

Sérgio Vieira de Mello was a Brazilian diplomat who worked for the UN for more than 34 years, earning respect and praise around the world for his efforts in the humanitarian services and political programmmes of the world body.

African Child Prize Award 2017

Dr Edward Nkwegu has been presented the prestigious African Child Prize Award 2017 for Leadership in Development of the African Child for meritorious activities in children and women empowerment.

According to Owosakponome Donaldson, representative of the African Child Foundation:

“Edward Nkwegu is well deserving of this award especially through the activities of his non-profit organisation, Regina Pacis Foundation, that helps the poor.”

The awards commemorates the 2017 International Day of the African Child (June 16), organised by the African Child Foundation, in Lagos.

The International Day of the African Child was first established by the Organisation of the African Unity (OAU) in 1991 and aims at raising awareness for the situation of children in African, as well as on the need for continuing improvement in education. It also encouraged people’s spirit of abundance to share something special with a child in Africa.