UNESCO has named Giuseppina Nicolini, Mayor of Lampedusa (Italy) and the non-governmental organisation SOS Méditerranée (France) as the winners of Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize 2017 “for their work to save the lives of refugees and migrants and welcome them with dignity”.
In the past, Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize has been granted to internationally renowned personalities like Nelson Mandela, Yasser Arafat, King Juan Carlos of Spain, former US president Jimmy Carter and Shimon Peres. For the first time, the award goes to a mayor.
Giuseppina Nicolini is a 56-year-old mayor of a small Italian island since 2012. She has been selected for the award for “her boundless humanity and unwavering commitment to refugee crisis management”. As a mayor, Nicolini ensured that the Lampedusa deals as efficiently and humanely as possible with the migrants and refugees arriving from war-torn Middle Eastern countries by sea. Lampedusa is a small island which is roughly equidistant from Southern Sicily, Malta and Tunisia.
SOS Mediterranee is an NGO founded in 2015 to rescue the refugees each week from dinghies and boats in the Mediterranean. Since 2013, it is estimated that nearly 13,000 people have perished in shipwrecks.
Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize
UNESCO’s Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize was created in 1989 to honour living individuals and active public or private bodies or institutions that have made significant contribution to peace. The Prize was established by a resolution supported by 120 countries and was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO at its 25th session.