8 November 2007 The International Rescue Committee has given its annual Freedom Award to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie in recognition of their contributions to the cause.
“The Freedom Award is a symbol that we will only be able to fully enjoy our freedom when everyone else is able to enjoy theirs,” said High Commissioner António Guterres at a ceremony in New York on Wednesday.
Although unable to attend the event, Ms. Jolie in a video message hailed the close partnership between UNHCR and the International Rescue Committee.
People of concern to UNHCR include not only refugees, but related groups such as asylum-seekers, refugee returnees, stateless people and some of the estimated 25 million people who are displaced within their own countries, normally known as internally displaced persons (IDP).
Since 2006, the number of refugees worldwide has been increasing and now stands at some 10 million, UNHCR said, attributing the rise largely to the crisis in Iraq.
This year marked the second time the UN agency has been honoured by the International Rescue Committee for its work protecting refugees; in 1995, the then High Commissioner Sadako Ogata received the Freedom Award.