The award is given to organizations and individuals deemed to have contributed to world peace. “The prize’s organizing committee said it chose UNHCR as this year’s recipient because of its work to protect the rights of asylum seekers in Italy, many of who arrive in overcrowded boats from Libya. Accepting the award, [UNHCR Regional Representative Laurens] Jolles said 2009 had been a difficult year for UNHCR in Italy as it sought ensure individuals’ rights to international protection were upheld in the face of restrictive government policies which, in some instances, has included returning boats to Libya.”
“This award is evidence that UNHCR is not alone in its conviction that safeguards for asylum seekers must be maintained, even on the high seas,” said Jolles. “It is essential that those who seek refuge from persecution are able to access international protection and that borders are not closed to them.”
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