Yemeni NGO wins prestigious UN refugee award

Yemeni NGO wins prestigious UN refugee award
3 min read
29 September, 2021
The UN has given its prestigious Nansen Refugee Award this year to the Jeel Albena Association for Humanitarian Development, which provides jobs, shelter, and education to thousands of Yemenis
Millions of people have been displaced by Yemen's conflict [Getty]

The United Nations said on Wednesday that a Yemeni humanitarian organisation working to help people displaced by the country's conflict was this year's recipient of its prestigious Nansen Refugee Award.

Praising the "extraordinary work" carried out by the Jeel Albena (Generation of Our Hearts) Association for Humanitarian Development, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the NGO was "an example of humanity, compassion and dedication."

The group, founded by Ameen Jubran in 2017, won the prestigious award "for its unwavering support for displaced Yemenis, even as shifting frontlines brought gun battles and explosions to its doorstep," the UNCHR said.

The award "draws attention to people displaced by conflict in Yemen, a country facing one of the world's worst humanitarian crises," Grandi said.

Jubran, 37, had himself been displaced by fighting and nearly killed, the UN body said.

"The areas where we work are considered to be among the most impoverished, and also the most dangerous," the statement quoted Jubran as saying.

"We felt the danger every day but, despite that, we had displaced people and others who needed our help. We couldn't just leave them behind without providing them with assistance."

The conflict erupted when pro-Iran Houthi rebels from northern Yemen entered the capital Sanaa in September 2014, seizing the government headquarters.

The rebels allied themselves with military units loyal to their former enemy, ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been forced to quit after a 2011 uprising.

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The conflict has left tens of thousands dead and, according to the UN, is causing the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Four million people have fled their homes and are in dire need of protection and assistance, but the conflict and its human suffering were often ignored, the UNHCR said.

Jeel Albena employs more than 160 people and is supported by an additional 230 volunteers, many of whom are displaced themselves.

Based in the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah, it has provided jobs and around 18,000 emergency shelters for people who are internally displaced and living in informal sites in the provinces of Hudaydah and Hajjah.

The organisation also supports displaced women to become self-sufficient and renovates schools, benefiting both the local community and displaced populations.

The UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award honours individuals, groups or organisations for going above and beyond the call of duty to protect refugees and other displaced and stateless people.

There have been over 60 global winners from different countries since the award was first established in 1954.

Since 1979, the Nansen laureates are awarded $150,000, financed by the governments of Norway and Switzerland.