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Annan receives humanitarian award, lauds those who help refugees

Annan receives humanitarian award, lauds those who help refugees

Afghan refugees in Pakistan
Behind the dry statistic of 50 million people worldwide having become refugees and internally displaced people are 50 million individuals, driven from their homes by war, persecution and human rights abuses, according to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"Each of them could be you or me, if we lived in a just slightly different place, or different time. Each one should serve as an appeal to our common humanity. Would we like to have their problems?" he said at a dinner held last night in McLean, Virginia, to mark the 25th anniversary of the advocacy group Refugees International.

A favourite sentence on a poster hanging near his UN office said, "A refugee would like to have your problems," Mr. Annan told the dinner guests.

He and his wife, Nane, received the first McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award, named for three RI staff members who died during a mission in Albania in 1999.

The night was an occasion to pay tribute to the selfless women and men "who toil anonymously in dangerous places, often far from their homes, to help their fellow human beings. People who usually receive no recognition, no medals, no parades," Mr. Annan said.