Migrant rescue NGO SOS Méditerranée was awarded the Right Livelihood prize on Thursday for its rescue operations on the "world's deadliest migration route". The Swedish foundation, whose award is considered an alternative Nobel Prize, also honored environmental organization Mother Nature Cambodia and Kenyan environmental activist Phyllis Omido.
Ghanaian diplomat and trained physician Eunice Brookman-Amissah was also honored for her commitment to improving abortion conditions in Africa.
The four laureates "have fought for the rights to health, safety, a healthy environment and democracy", said foundation director Ole von Ueskull in a statement.
SOS Méditerranée was born in 2015 from the meeting between a French humanitarian, Sophie Beau, and a German merchant marine captain, Klaus Vogel.
Both were ulcerated to see Italy put an end to its vast program of rescue operations for migrants drowning on the road to Europe.
Since then, with its two successive ships, the fluorescent-orange Aquarius and the red-and-white Ocean Viking, the association has been providing assistance to migrants in distress in the Mediterranean, as well as medical and psychological care.
Since the start of its operations, it has rescued almost 39,000 people.
Since the start of its operations, it claims to have rescued almost 39,000 people.
"The unwavering commitment of the organization has not only saved lives, but also raised awareness among the general public, European institutions and governments of the realities of the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean," said the jury.
Kenya's Phyllis Omido was honored for defending the rights and health of the inhabitants of Owino Uhuru, near Monbassa, who suffer from lead poisoning inherited from a factory recycling lead batteries used in cars.
The foundation rewarded the Cambodian NGO Mother Nature Cambodia "for its work alongside local communities to preserve nature and livelihoods even in the face of increasing government repression of civil society activism".
She presented Eunice Brookman-Amissah with an honorary award for women's right to self-determination in Africa.
Her efforts have led to abortion rights reforms in Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Benin and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), and to the repeal of legislation in Ghana, Zambia, Malawi, Senegal and Mauritius.
The Right Livelihood Prize was created in 1980 by the German-Swedish Jakob von Uexhull after the Nobel Foundation turned down his proposal to create two new prizes for the environment and development.