(Vatican Radio) A Nigerian lawyer, teacher and peacemaker has won the prestigious UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award for his work opening schools amid conflict in north-eastern Nigeria.
Zannah Mustapha, who also helped mediate the release of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamic fundamentalist Boko Haram militants in 2014, has been chosen as this year’s Nansen laureate for his work championing the rights of displaced children affected by violence in the area, and for his commitment to assure they receive quality education.
Mustapha founded a school 10 years ago in Maiduguri - the capital of Borno State which is the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency. The school has stayed open throughout violence, persecution and abductions which have left over 20,000 killed and millions more displaced.
The school provides free education, as well as free meals, uniforms and health care, to children affected by violence.
Those orphaned by the conflict on both sides are also welcomed into his classrooms as a sign of the reconciliation he hopes to achieve in the region.
Mustapha will be bestowed with the Nansen Refugee Award at ceremony taking place in Geneva on Monday 2 October.
UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award is an annual prize which recognizes individuals, groups or organizations with outstanding dedication and service to the displacement cause. It aims to showcase the values of perseverance and conviction in the face of adversity.