The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

The UNHCR "shows us that the unfortunate foreigner is one of us; it teaches us to understand that sympathy with other human beings, even if they are separated from us by national frontiers, is the foundation upon which a lasting peace must be built”.

UN Photo/PB
An aged refugee (left) and his family are seen on their way to one of the new houses which has been assigned to them in Vigla.

The Nobel Peace Prize for 1954

The prize was awarded to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in appreciation of its work in bringing relief and aid to the countless refugees and displaced persons to be found in Europe during the immediate post-war years. The Committee stated: "It was given with a view to emphasising that the work must be continued, so that one would be ready to meet new refugee problems on the basis of the principles of humanitarianism and international justice on which the Office was built."

Nobel Committee: "Think of what it means to the individual refugee to feel and to know that he has not been forgotten, that in spite of everything there is someone willing to help him"

UNHCR began its work in 1951 and has sought to bring assistance to the refugees and to help the authorities understand their problems. Chairman of the Nobel Committee, Gunnar Jahn, said in his Award Ceremony Speech: "Think of what it means to the individual refugee to feel and to know that he has not been forgotten, that in spite of everything there is someone willing to help him (...). In addition, the provision of legal protection gives him some sense of security and so helps to maintain his morale and to encourage him to begin a new life."

“There may perhaps be some who do not believe that work for the refugees is work in the cause of peace (…). But it is work for peace, if to heal the wounds of war is to work for peace, if to promote brotherhood among men is to work for peace. For this work shows us that the unfortunate foreigner is one of us; it teaches us to understand that sympathy with other human beings, even if they are separated from us by national frontiers, is the foundation upon which a lasting peace must be built.”

In his Nobel Lecture, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Dr. Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart said: "There can be no real peace in this world as long as hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children, through no fault of their own, but only because they sacrificed all they possessed for the sake of what they believed, still remain in camps and live in misery and in the greatest uncertainty of their future."

 

 

 

Audio

The disinherited - Actor Joseph Schilkraut narrates this drama exploring the life of refugees, the year the High Commissioner for Refugees was awarded its first Nobel Prize.

01-Jan-1954
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