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Nigerian woman who lost son to Jos violence wins 2017 global UN humanitarian award
In 2011, Rebecca Dali’s son disappeared during the crises that rocked Jos, the Plateau State capital, but in 2017 a humanitarian organisation that she founded — Centre for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI) — has been named winner of the Sérgio Vieira de Mello Award in recognition of her humanitarian services in the north-east.
According to NAN, the award is conferred once in every two years, to draw the attention to the unnoticed efforts by individuals, groups and organisations who are “doing something special and unique to reconcile people and parties in conflict”.
“The award ceremony will take place on August 21 in Geneva, Switzerland, during the celebration of this year’s World Humanitarian Day,” said Hanson Tamfu, External Relations Officer of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Nigeria.
Tamfu said that Dali’s organisation has been instrumental for the re-integration of women who were kidnapped and lived with the Boko Haram terrorists, as well as children born to these women, whom the local people refer to as “bad blood children”.
According to him, Dali was the first humanitarian actor to set up a livelihood programme for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and returnees in Madagali and Michika local government areas of Adamawa.
Reacting to the development, Dali said the award had come to assuage the sadness for the disappearance of her son in the 2011 Jos crisis.
“Indeed, the award is like a miracle to me because I never expected it,” she said. I feel as if I do not deserve any praise for the work I do because it is service to humanity and to my people.
“I dedicate this award to God almighty, all my donors, including the UNHCR, who have enabled me to be internationally visible”.
Aside the UNHCR, the CCEPI is also being supported by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which commenced humanitarian operations in the north-east in 2014.
The Sérgio Vieira de Mello award has a symbolic cash prize of about N6.6 million.
The World Humanitarian Day is usually celebrated every August 19 in honour of the 22 aid workers who died in a bomb attack on the UN headquarters in Bagdad in 2003, among whom was Sergio Vieira de Mello, a Brazilian diplomat who worked for the UN for more than 34 years.
It is also a day to commemorate all those who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian workers around the world.