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The third annual Ockenden International Prize for excellence in self-reliant refugee projects has been won by The Community Association for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights (ACPDH) and Disability and Development Partners (DDP) UK for the DDP-nominated project: “Twunganire Abahungutse (TA) - Everyone Supports Returnees” operating in two provinces of Burundi.
The Most Reverend & Right Honorable Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York presented the Prize of $US100,000 at the annual ceremony in the Simpkins Lee Theatre, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University on Tuesday evening.
Three finalists competing for the annual cash prize presented their projects to a panel of five experts only hours before the Ceremony at Lady Margaret Hall, where the charity’s founder, the late Joyce Pearce OBE began her career of service to refugees and displaced people worldwide.
The judges were impressed by the project’s emphasis on the human rights of people forcibly returned to Burundi from Tanzania after a joint decision by Tanzania, Burundi and the UNHCR to close a camp for 38,000 people at the end of 2012 and the concentration on those rights by empowering people with economic security, education, health, and social integration and in a way that was not a short-term ‘fix’.
The judging panel, led by broadcaster Michael Buerk, sought evidence of increased self-reliance in the communities supported, the central ethos of the Prize, which recognises and rewards work that has improved the lives of refugees and displaced people across the globe.
Trophies, certificates and cheques – $100,000 to the winner and $25,000 for the other two finalists – were this year presented by the Archbishop of York who said: “I give thanks to all 67 organisations that entered the Ockenden International Awards for 2015. I am delighted to award the winners gathered here in recognition of their efforts in serving others and humanity. Let us salute their great work, in not only helping refugees to survive, but also to live proudly and positively in circumstances they did not choose.”
A capacity audience saw the Prize presentations and heard the three contenders explain their projects. The other finalists and their projects were:
ZOA – Relief Hope Recovery, The Netherlands-based refugee charity for its project “Revitalising Livelihood Opportunities along Two Economic Arteries in Sri Lanka’s Former War Zone”.
The Border Consortium – Thailand and Myanmar, for its “Preparedness for Return” programme, preparing refugees with the skills necessary for self-reliance on their return to Myanmar from nine camps on the Thai side of their border.
The 2015 Prize attracted 67 entries from 39 countries with the three finalists chosen by a preliminary judging panel throughout October-November 2014.
The judges, Chaired by Mr Michael Buerk, broadcaster, were Dr Alexander Betts, Director Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford; Dr Dawn Chatty, Professor of Anthropology and Forced Migration, University of Oxford; Mr Mohammed Suleman, Managing Director, Barrow & Gale; and Dr Avila Kilmurray, Director of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland.
Last year’s Prize was won by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) for a resettlement programme that gained land rights for 5,000 internally displaced people in Zimbabwe. Their prize money is being used to extend the programme into other affected provinces in the country.
The inaugural Prize was awarded in February 2013 to India’s Centre for Development (CfD) partnered by UK charity Childreach International for their Piplaj Advocacy Project to empower a deeply impoverished community in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, to campaign for better living conditions, education and healthcare. CfD is using its prize money on a similar project for children made homeless by commercial developments forcing them into other slums in Ahmedabad.
Calls for entries in the 2016 Prize will open on May 1, 2015.
More information can be found at www.ockendenprizes.org
Note for editors Ockenden International’s foundations lie in the work of three British schoolteachers, led by Joyce Pearce, who in 1951 brought a group of young East Europeans to Britain from homeless persons’ camps in Germany. They were given support, education and welfare and the operation soon became known as the Ockenden Venture.
This work later extended to projects in India, North Africa and Southeast Asia. The Venture’s expertise and skills in helping people help themselves was so well recognised by 1979 that the British government asked Ockenden to be one of the three charities tasked with helping Vietnamese ‘boat people’ resettle in the United Kingdom.
After the death in 1985 of Joyce Pearce, the driving visionary of the organisation, the charity took stock of its work and by 1999, as Ockenden International, had concentrated nearly all its work overseas.
In 2007 the trustees decided that continuing to be an operational charity was no longer viable and that it could work more effectively by becoming a donor and prize-giver promoting awareness of the challenges facing refugees and displaced people.