Press Release

Civil society organization in Myanmar wins the regional Nansen Refugee Award

04 October 2022

Naw Bway Khu
Caption: Meikswe Myanmar founder Naw Bway Khu with children at the Metta May May centre in Lashio Township, Shan State, Myanmar. The centre provides support to people who are living with HIV/AIDS.
Photo: © UNHCR/Hkun Ring

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency is pleased to share that Meikswe Myanmar has been selected by an independent selection committee as this year’s regional winner of the Nansen Refugee Award in the Asia region.

Meikswe Myanmar is a civil society organization operating in several states and regions in Myanmar. It serves a diverse range of vulnerable groups from people living with HIV to internally displaced people and their host communities.

Meikswe Myanmar has been named a regional winner of the Nansen Refugee Award in recognition of their longstanding commitment to aiding and empowering communities uprooted by conflict. It also acknowledges their contributions in supporting and building the capacity of local organizations to effectively respond to the needs of displaced populations and host communities.

Founded in 2004, Meikswe Myanmar – meaning Friends of Myanmar - implements a range of activities to support internally displaced people, their host communities and other vulnerable groups in close to 300 locations across six states and regions, namely Kayin, Rakhine and Shan States as well as Magway, Mandalay and Yangon Regions.

“Our value is the focus on fragile and forgotten communities that are often in hard-to-access areas, as well as minority groups,” said Naw Bway Khu, Meikswe Myanmar’s founder.

The award highlights the crucial role of local organizations in responding to growing humanitarian needs in Myanmar.

“First responders are often local communities and grassroots organizations. Rapid humanitarian action would not be possible without them”, said Hai Kyung Jun, UNHCR’s Representative in Myanmar. “Humanitarian assistance undertaken by the international aid agencies like UNHCR complements what resourceful local organizations like Meikswe Myanmar are already doing on the ground to help those in need.”

Meikswe Myanmar’s programming is centered on long-term, bottom-up philosophies of empowerment and resilience, grounded in community needs. Emphasis is placed on supporting women and girls in particular.

“Communities are a fundamental building block of society. If they have strength, knowledge, and systems that enable them to progress, our country can also develop,” said Naw Bway Khu.

Keeping to its grassroots spirit, Meikswe also maintains close partnerships with a growing network of over 80 local organizations across Myanmar, acting a bridge between them and international organizations as well as donors that can provide resources. Additionally, trainings are provided by Meikswe, so that local organizations are capacitated to mount effective emergencies responses in times of crisis.

Established in 1954, the award is named for the late Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian diplomat, scientist, polar explorer and humanitarian who went on to serve as the first High Commissioner for Refugees for the League of Nations and won the 1922 Nobel Peace Prize. 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of his award.

The Nansen Refugee Award is an annual award that honours individuals, groups and organizations who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect and assist forcibly displaced and stateless people. It is sponsored by the governments of Norway and Switzerland.

This year, the global winner is Angela Merkel. There are also four regional winners, including Meikswe Myanmar in Asia, as well as winners in the Africa, the Americas and the Middle East.

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Reuben Lim

Reuben Lim

Public Information Officer

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