The late Senator Edward M. Kennedy has won a United Nations award for his decades of work on behalf of the world's refugees.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced today that Kennedy, who died last month, was posthumously awarded the 2009 Nansen Refugee Prize "for his achievements as an unparalleled champion of refugee protection and assistance for more than 45 years."
The prize comes with $100,000 to be donated to any cause the winner chooses. Kennedy's communication chief, Anthony Coley, said no decision has been made on how to distribute the money.
The UNHCR said Kennedy was informed of the award in June, although it was not disclosed publicly until today.
The UN agency said Kennedy's work "in establishing US refugee admissions, resettlement, and asylum programs directly helped millions of persecuted individuals to find protection and start new lives in the United States. He was the chief sponsor of more than 70 refugee related measures and was instrumental in codifying international refugee obligations into US law."
In making the announcement, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said: “Senator Kennedy stood out as a forceful advocate for those who suddenly found themselves with no voice and no rights. Year after year, conflict after conflict, he put the plight of refugees on the agenda and drove through policies that saved and shaped countless lives.”
The UN agency noted that Kennedy played a major role in recent years in drawing attention to the needs of Iraqi refugees after the US invasion there.
The prize was created in 1954 to honor Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian polar explorer and scientis who was the first UN High Commissioner for Refugees. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922.
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
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