Finalist for the Nansen Refugee Award honored in Bangkok

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Tor Haug (Chargé d’Affaires a.i. at the Norwegian Embassy), Pia Carmela Paguio (UNHCR), Tuenjai Deetes (finalist for the Nansen Refugee Award), Pierre Hagmann (Chargé d’Affaires a.i. at the Swiss Embassy). Photo: Michael de Vera

On Wednesday 12 September, the Norwegian Embassy in Bangkok hosted a ceremony together with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Swiss Embassy to honor the regional finalist of the Nansen Refugee Award, Ms. Tuenjai Deetes.

The Nansen Refugee Award is presented every year to an individual or organization who has dedicated their time to help refugees or stateless people. The award is named after the Norwegian polar explorer and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen, who served as the first High Commissioner for Refugees for the League of Nations.

 

Ms. Tuenjai Deetes was nominated for the award for her extensive work with stateless people in Thailand over the past 40 years. She has initiated campaigns and education programs to create awareness about the issue, and enabled numerous stateless people in Thailand to acquire citizenship by amending the Nationality Act and the Civil Registration Act in 2008. Today Ms. Tuenjai Deetes continues to be an active campaigner for improving the rights of stateless people, and oversees the implementation of legislative measures as a Human Rights Commissioner.

 

The event was attended by over 60 activist, diplomats and government officials. Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Tor Haug held a speech honoring the work of Ms. Tuenjai Deetes and stressed Norway’s long commitment in supporting humanitarian efforts across the world. Ms. Tuenjai Deetes focused her speech on how issues surrounding statelessness in Thailand has seen great improvements in recent years, but that there is still much to be done. Ms. Deetes also took the opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to improving the conditions of stateless people. She stressed that this has been a collaborative process and can only continue with broad support from civil society, the government and the international community.

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Ms. Tuenjai Deetes giving her speech.