The Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize was established in 1989 to honor individuals or institutions that significantly contributed to promoting, seeking, safeguarding or maintaining peace in conformity with the United Nations’ Charter and the Constitution of UNESCO. This year the acting President of the Jury, Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique, declared that “refugees and migrants constitute one of the crucial issues of our day, notably in the Mediterranean where nearly 13,000 men, women and children have perished in shipwrecks since 2013.” On this basis, the Jury of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize has decided to award the Prize to Giusi Nicolini, Mayor of Lampedusa, and to the French NGO SOS Méditerranée for their work to save the lives of refugees and migrants and welcome them with dignity.
Since becoming mayor in 2012, Nicolini has been recognized for her boundless humanity and unwavering commitment to refugee crisis management and integration in response to the arrival of thousands of refugees on the shores of Lampedusa and elsewhere in Italy. Commenting her award Nicolini stated: “At a time when there is who closes the frontiers and builds walls talking about a non-existent invasion, receiving this prize with this motivation, gives hope in a supportive Europe where humanity is not lost. It is on these values, on these principles, that Europe was founded on. Otherwise, we risk sinking together with the refugees and migrants that try to cross the Mediterranean.”
SOS Méditerranée is a civic, European organization for the rescue of people in distress in the Mediterranean. Since launching its rescue operation in February 2016, the organization has saved more than 11,000 lives.
Ilona Catani Scarlett