Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Ahead of the presentation of the 2013 Nansen Refugee Award to Sister Angélique Namaika of the Democratic Republic of the Congo tonight in Geneva, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie sent a message of congratulations to the Roman Catholic nun and praised her for her selfless work helping hundreds of female victims of violence, rape and other abuse.
"I warmly congratulate Sister Angélique Namaika, this year's Nansen Refugee Award laureate, for her outstanding and truly inspiring work to support vulnerable displaced women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Nansen Refugee Award recognizes her extraordinary contribution and the manner in which she has positively impacted the lives of thousands of displaced people in the DRC. Sister Angélique's work can also help to draw attention to the devastating effects of rape and sexual violence and the need for justice and help for survivors. The culture of impunity for sexual violence in conflict must be challenged; for far too long it has been possible for rape to be used as a weapon of war and for perpetrators to go unpunished. We need global action to end war zone rape, and I call on governments around the world to make this an urgent priority."
About Sister Angélique Namaika
Sister Angélique was selected as the 2013 laureate in recognition of her tireless efforts in north-east Democratic Republic of the Congo on behalf of hundreds of women and girls displaced and abused by armed groups - including the Lord's Resistance Army, or LRA, a rebel group from Uganda. Through her Centre for Reintegration and Development, she has helped transform the lives of more than 2,000 women and girls. Many of them tell stories of abduction, forced labour, beatings, murder, rape and other human rights abuses.
Sister Angélique was herself displaced by the violence in 2009 while living in the small town of Dungu in Orientale province. She knows the pain of fleeing one's home. It is part of what drives her to work day in and day out to reach all those in need.
About the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Ceremony
The Nansen Refugee Award ceremony takes place in Geneva at the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices. The event will feature a keynote speech from best-selling author Paulo Coelho and musical performances by British singer-songwriter Dido, Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna and Grammy-nominated Malian musicians Amadou and Mariam.
Following the ceremony, Sister Angélique will travel to Rome, where she will be received at the Vatican by Pope Francis on October 2 before proceeding to Paris, Brussels and Oslo for other meetings.