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Italy: Lampedusa mayor wins top UNESCO prize for welcoming migrants

Italy: Lampedusa mayor wins top UNESCO prize for welcoming migrants


Giuseppina Nicolini, Mayor of the Italian island of Lampedusa is set to be awarded co-winner of the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize. She saw named along with the French Non-Governmental organization SOS Mediterranee.

The Mayor was named for the top prize for her work in saving the life of predominantly African migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa as they aim to reach Europe in search of greener pastures.

Lampedusa is Italy’s southernmost island, it lies between Malta and Tunisia and is geographically part of the African continent.

Even though it is reputed for its fine beaches and other tourists attractions, since the early 2000s it has also become synonymous with immigration especially of illegal migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

A UNESCO statement released on April 19, said the decision to award the mayor and the NGO was ‘‘for their work to save the lives of refugees and migrants and welcome them with dignity.’‘

“After examining conditions around the world, the Jury of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize determined 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,” declared the acting President of the Jury, Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique.

The Jury also appealed to the international community to do all it takes to ensure that the Mediterranean Sea once again becomes a place where solidarity and intercultural dialogue hold sway and that it cease to serve as a watery grave.

About the award winners

Giuseppina Nicolini became Lampedusa mayor in 2012, since then, she has been recognized severally 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.

In the case of SOS Méditerranée, they are a leading organization for the rescue of people in distress in the Mediterranean. Since launching its rescue operation in February 2016, the organization has saved an estimated 11,000 lives.

About The The Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize

The Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize was created in 1989 to honor individuals or public and private bodies or institutions that have made a significant contribution to promoting, seeking, safeguarding or maintaining peace in conformity with the United Nations’ Charter and the Constitution of UNESCO.

Past laureates of the Prize have included personalities such as French President François Hollande, Nelson Mandela and Frederik W. De Klerk; Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat; King Juan Carlos of Spain and former U.S.A. President, Jimmy Carter.

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