British photojournalist wins UN prize for helping refugees

9 July 2010

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced today that it is bestowing its most prestigious award this year to British photojournalist Alixandra Fazzina for her dedication to pointing the lens at the overlooked human consequences of war.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced today that it is bestowing its most prestigious award this year to British photojournalist Alixandra Fazzina for her dedication to pointing the lens at the overlooked human consequences of war.

For the last decade, Ms. Fazzina – whose work has taken her to Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia – has tirelessly documented the plight of refugees, often neglected by mainstream media, through her distinctive and moving reporting.

“Alixandra Fazzina stands out as a fearless humanitarian who achieves something remarkable by unearthing and so vividly portraying individual stories of uprooted people,” said High Commissioner António Guterres.

“Her particular talent, her commitment and empathy and her incredible devotion to getting to the bottom of every story makes her an exemplary chronicler of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Ms. Fazzina started her career as a photojournalist embedded with the British army in Bosnia, and since then, she has been focusing on telling the stories of people living in refugee camps and documenting the human suffering caused by war.

She is known for her coverage of landmine victims in Kosovo, civilians trapped behind enemy lines in Angola, the use of rape as a weapon of war in Sierra Leone, and the dire situation of refugees in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This year’s Nansen Award winner also spent two years in Somalia, risking her life to chronicle the exodus of migrants and refugees from the impoverished Horn of Africa nation, as well as the smuggling of people across the Gulf of Aden.

The prize, given annually to an individual or organization for outstanding work on behalf of refugees, was created in 1954 in honour of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Fridtjof Nansen, the legendary Norwegian polar explorer and scientist, who was the first UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

It includes a $100,000 prize, funded by Norway and Switzerland, which the winner can donate to a cause of his or her choice. The award ceremony will take place on 5 October in Geneva.

Last year, UNHCR honoured the late United States Senator Edward Kennedy for his record of more than 45 years as an unparalleled champion of refugee protection and assistance. Previous recipients include Eleanor Roosevelt, King Juan Carlos I of Spain and Queen Juliana of the Netherlands.

 

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