Angela Merkel Receives UNESCO Peace Prize in Ivory Coast

Angela Merkel Receives UNESCO Peace Prize in Ivory Coast

Germany’s former chancellor Angela Merkel on February 8 was awarded the Felix Houphouet-Boigny UNESCO Peace Prize in Ivory Coast’s capital Yamoussoukro for welcoming more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers to the European country in 2015 and 2016.

Angela Merkel showed political courage when Germany welcomed refugees, who had fled conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea. Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege, president of the jury awarding the prize, praised her for having opened the gates of Germany “at the same time many other countries were overcome with fear.”

“Respecting, preserving and sharing human rights is the mission of each of us. We decided that it was necessary to respect these principles in our migration policy,” said the veteran political leader, who spent 16 years as Germany’s Chancellor and stepped down in 2021.

“Despite the hostility of public opinion, you took the decision to open Germany’s borders to refugees fleeing conflict zones,” said Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara. “You have reminded all world leaders of their duty of solidarity towards all humans,” he added.

Around 2,000 people were invited to the awards ceremony. The awards were founded in 1989 and has previously handed awards to Nelson Mandela, Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Francois Hollande.