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Senior UN relief official receives humanitarian award

Senior UN relief official receives humanitarian award

Jan Egeland
United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland has been recognized for his work as a humanitarian worker and peace broker on behalf of victims worldwide.

Hebrew Union College awarded the 2005 Roger E. Joseph Prize to Mr. Egeland yesterday took place at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's Ceremony of Investiture and Ordination in Central Synagogue in New York City.

The Joseph Prize, established in 1978, is an international award presented annually to an individual or organization, which, by virtue of religious and moral commitment, has made a distinctive contribution to humanity and whose conduct or work enhances or encourages the values and ideals that derive from religious teaching.

Mr. Egeland was awarded the $10,000 prize for his work on behalf of victims worldwide. He was among the first to sound the alarm on the present situation in the Darfur region of Sudan and has 25 years of human rights, peace, and humanitarian work. Mr. Egeland plans to donate the proceeds of the prize to field operations carried out by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which he heads.

"We must always speak the truth about the reasons why so many suffer, and how matters can be put right," said Mr. Egeland at the ceremony. "We must never avoid speaking the truth because we are afraid of offending people in power."

Roger E. Joseph, a lawyer and decorated World War II veteran, was severely stricken with polio in 1951, leaving him almost completely paralyzed for the remainder of his life. Confined to an iron lung, he spent years learning to care for himself; ultimately he was able to resume his law practice and was active in many causes.

Previous award recipients include Victor Kugler, who gave refuge to Anne Frank and her family during the Holocaust; Helen Suzman, the South African anti-apartheid activist; Rosa Parks, the mother of the modern civil rights movement in the United States; and the French village of Le Chambon, which gave refuge to Jews and Christians fleeing the Nazis during the Holocaust.

It has also been posthumously given to Johan Jorgen Holst for facilitating the Middle East Peace accords; Chaplain Mychal Judge and the City of New York Fire Department after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001; as well as the murdered journalist Daniel Pearl and The Daniel Pearl Foundation.