UN Refugee Award for Russian Organization

Top prize for Memorial Human Rights Centre

Ruud Lubbers, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, has announced that the memorial Human Rights Centre is to receive this year's Nansen Refugee Award, given to organizations which have distinguished themselves in their work helping refugees.

The Memorial Human Rights Centre helps people to settle down in the Russian Federation, last year providing legal aid to 21,300 refugees who had left their homes and come to live in Russia. These people included forced migrants, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons who could not return to their homes.

Many of these people were non-Russians or even from outside the CIS countries. Ruud Lubbers said that the Centre "has earned the respect of all of us in the international humanitarian community" due to its constant standard of excellence in sometimes very hard conditions, for instance in the Caucasus.

The Centre works in 45 regions of the Federation and is staffed by 150 people. Set up at the end of the 1980s, observing and reporting on the status of refugees in the USSR, it became independent in 1993. The Centre will be awarded the Nansen Prize, instituted in memory of the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen in 1954, in Barcelona on International Refugee Day
(20th June).