This year’s Nansen Refugee Prize has been awarded to Sister Angelique Namaika, who works in the remote north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with survivors of displacement and abuse by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
In announcing the award, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Sister Angélique, through her Centre for Reintegration and Development, has helped transform the lives of more than 2,000 women and girls who have been forced from their homes and abused, mainly by the LRA. Many of those she helps recount stories of abduction, forced labour, beatings, murder, rape and other human rights abuses.
Her one-on-one approach helps them recover from the trauma and damage. On top of the abuse they have suffered, these vulnerable women and girls are often ostracized by their own families and communities because of their ordeal.
It takes a special kind of care to help them heal and to pick up the pieces of their lives. Sister Angélique does this by helping them learn a trade, start a small business or go back to school. Testimonies from these women show the remarkable effect she has had on helping turn around their lives, with many affectionately calling her “mother.”
The announcement of the 2013 Nansen prize coincides with the release of a report about life for those displaced by LRA violence.
Since 2008, an estimated 320,000 people have been forced to flee in DRC’s northeastern province of Orientale – in some cases several times. The report, produced by UNHCR and the IDMC (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre), highlights why LRA violence has created such severe and long-lasting trauma for both the abductees and the hundreds of thousands of people still too afraid to return home.