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A refugee education advocate from Somalia has been awarded the top honor from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Africa World News

A refugee education advocate from Somalia has been awarded the top honor from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Abdullahi Mire was raised in the expansive Dadaab refugee complex located in the northeastern region of Kenya, which currently houses over 240,000 registered refugees primarily from Somalia.

The UNHCR, in collaboration with partners, oversees operations in the area with the assistance of the Kenyan Government and local communities.

In 2020, approximately 56% of the population consists of children.

By that time, the number of students in secondary school had surpassed 60,000. Despite this, there is still a high demand for teachers, supplies, and classroom space, causing inadequate educational results.

Educational pioneer

Only a small percentage of individuals who graduate from secondary school are able to continue on to tertiary education.

After residing in the Dadaab complex for 23 years starting in the early 1990s, Mr. Mire successfully earned a diploma in journalism and public relations from Kenyatta University in Kenya in 2013.

While employed at the United Nations’ migration agency, IOM, in Somalia, he focused on assisting ex-soldiers with disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating into society. However, he became aware that due to illiteracy, many were vulnerable to being indoctrinated and becoming radicalized.


In 2018, he founded the Refugee Youth Education Hub (RYEH) with a focus on providing education and promoting the development of refugee youth based on his personal experience.

In 2020, he informed the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) that his goal is to improve the circumstances of refugee children and youth residing in Daadab.

“The sole means of achieving this is through education,” he stated. “Providing these children and young people with high-quality education will greatly enhance their lives.” He also emphasized the importance of education as a top priority for societies, particularly those recovering from prolonged conflict. He believes that education is crucial for fostering peace and stability, if not more.

Personifying change

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, spoke before the award was announced and stated that Abdullahi Mire serves as evidence that innovative ideas can originate from displaced communities.

He has demonstrated impressive resourcefulness and determination in improving the quality of education for refugees.

The UN Refugee Agency observed that Mr. Mire, who grew up in the Dadaab camps, had relocated to Norway, but his desire to help his community brought him back after a year.

The educational center he established has established three libraries in the refugee camps. These libraries have been filled with books donated by others, and have provided more learning opportunities for tens of thousands of children and young adults who have been forced to flee their homes.

Mr. Mire, 36, stated that the victory is not only his, but also belongs to the volunteers he collaborates with and the children in the schools.

Regional winners

UNHCR has also declared the regional recipients to be recognized this year.

Elizabeth Moreno Barco is a human rights advocate in the Americas who fights for the rights of communities impacted by internal armed conflicts in Colombia.

Asia Al-Mashreqi, from the Middle East and North Africa region, is the creator and leader of the Sustainable Development Foundation. The foundation has aided approximately two million people in Yemen who have been impacted by ongoing conflict.

Four Rohingya storytellers, Abdullah Habib, Sahat Zia Hero, Salim Khan, and Shahida Win (Asia-Pacific), are recording the stories of stateless Rohingya refugees.

Lena and Władysław Grochowski, a couple from Poland, run a hotel chain and foundation that offer housing and educational opportunities to refugees in Europe.

The ceremony for the awards will take place in Geneva on December 13th at the Global Refugee Forum 2023.

Presented by renowned American news anchor Ann Curry, the occasion will exhibit the achievements of the recipients and include live performances by Lous and the Yakuza, MIYAVI, and Ricky Kej. The event will also be available to watch through a live stream.

The funding for the awards comes from the Norwegian and Swiss governments, IKEA Foundation, and the city and canton of Geneva.

The name comes from Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, and humanitarian.