Why Is Angela Markel Awarded A UNHCR Refugee Award?

The refugee crisis continues to be a massive dilemma for all countries. For example, Germany deals with this issue in its particular manner. Here, political figures like the former German Chancellor Angela Merkel have chosen to invest time in the problem deserving recognition. To commemorate and set an example for everyone to emulate, the UNHCR has awarded special refugee awards to people who have spent time to support refugees over the years. This time, the UNHCR High Commissioner, Filippo Grandi, publicly acknowledged the positive work Angela Merkel has done for refugees. She was introduced as 2022’s global laureate.

Why is Angela Merkel a laureate awardee?

What she did to promote refugee rights might not have been entirely public. However, thanks to this award, her vision, fortitude, and courage were enumerated. During the peak of the ongoing devastating Syrian conflict, between 2015 and 2016, she welcomed more than one point two million refugees and asylum seekers to Germany. These are a lot of vulnerable people. Many Syrians had nowhere to find mental peace or shelter for their distressed bodies. She became hope to these people. Isn’t that commendable? In the words of Filippo Grandi, “[y]ou demonstrated a moral compass which guided your work and the actions of your country but showed the way for so many of us in Europe and in the world.” Agreeably, this is a high bar many countries might not be willing to cross. It is no surprise Grandi described her personality as “moral.” That could be the best word to attribute to a selfless person like Merkel.

How did Angela Merkel respond?

Her acceptance speech contained details of the challenges she faced while advocating for this philanthropic step. Ms. Merkel stressed that she rejected the selfish instincts of some “with cold hearts” who wanted Germany to be only for Germans. These are the words of a natural compassionate leader who isn’t considering nationality over humanitarianism. Furthermore, “[w]hat is important is a future for the country to be self-confident and free,” a Germany which “is open to other human beings…[and] can succeed if we do our best”, she said. Refusing to accept all the accolades, she added,  “also an honour for all the people who’ve got to grips with the tasks we faced.” Finally, in her gratitude, she remarked, “[m]y thanks goes first and foremost to all those people.” Undoubtedly, everyone in her government also needs to be applauded. It is impressive that she stood up for the voiceless refugees.


Awards commemorate positive memories and could be considered a success. However, for an endless crisis like this, awards should be an inspiration for future work. This is a loud call for everyone to play a role in this global crisis. Migration numbers continue to increase geometrically, and there is no time for delay. Now is the best time for politicians to use their positions and help hopeless refugees. The call for humanitarianism is not solely limited to high political figures. This is an open appeal. Anyone, whether corporate organizations or entrepreneurs, can decide to invest money or time to support these people who otherwise have no support. We may never publicly have a physical laureate awarded to us, but we could have a private laureate inscribed in the heart of vulnerable homeless refugee children. They deserve our support. Today, the world’s least effort is to offer an open and welcoming society for all.

Sarah Namondo