Sunday 4 December 2016

George Clooney to present one million dollar humanitarian prize

Published 22/04/2016 | 15:36

Hollywood star George Clooney will present a one million US dollar prize celebrating individuals who risk their lives for others
Hollywood star George Clooney will present a one million US dollar prize celebrating individuals who risk their lives for others

George Clooney is to present a one million US dollar (£700,000) prize at a ceremony celebrating individuals who risk their lives for others.

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The Oscar-award winning actor will hand out the award on Sunday at a humanitarian conference held to recognise those who put themselves at risk to save the lives of others.

Nominees include an American doctor whose hospital serving 500,000 people in war-torn Sudan is consistently bombed, and a Burundi woman who has saved the lives of almost 30,000 children.

Clooney has long taken an interest in humanitarian issues and co-founded the international relief charity Not On Our Watch with fellow Hollywood stars Matt Damon and Brad Pitt.

He will attend the inaugural Aurora Prize event in Yerevan, Armenia this weekend where humanitarian organisations are also gathering to discuss the global refugee crisis.

The prize, which will become an annual event, will be awarded to one of four individuals and includes a 100,000 dollar (£70,000) grant as well as the opportunity to nominate an organisation - that has inspired the winner - for a one million dollar award.

Among the four nominees for the award is Marguerite Barankitse, a Burundian woman who saved the lives of 30,000 children during the country's civil war.

Another is American doctor Tom Catena who is the only permanent surgeon working in rural Sudan - based in the country's conflicted border area with South Sudan.

Also nominated is Syeda Ghulam Fatima, a Pakistani activist who survived attempts on her life during her campaign to liberate bonded labourers, and Father Bernard Kinvi, a Togolese priest providing refuge to both sides of a civil war in the Central African Republic.

Alongside the award, Nobel Laureates, charities and former politicians will participate in the Aurora Dialogues - a series of debates on the humanitarian state of the world, focusing prominently on the global refugee and migrant crisis and the impact of the Syrian civil war.

A report commissioned by the prize found that the general public widely underestimate the refugee crisis and exaggerate their own government's response to helping Syrians.

The Humanitarian Index found the British public thought the civil war in Syria caused 300,000 people to flee the country - 16 times fewer than the official figure of 4.8m.

The index also found people in Britain, as well as Germany, the US, Lebanon, Iran and France, all overestimated the number of Syrians who had been relocated in their countries.

The prize will highlight these misconceptions and is to be awarded 101 years to the day that Armenians say the Ottoman Empire began a genocide against their people, causing hundreds of thousands to flee the country as refugees.

Modern day Turkey strongly disputes claims that the events of 1915 were a genocide and the figures stated.

Co-founder of the Aurora Prize Vartan Gregorian said: "The Aurora Prize is about recognising and celebrating these individuals for risking it all for the sake of others.

"By showing the impact one person's actions can have, it is our hope that others will be compelled to act too."

Alongside Clooney on the prize selection committee is the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, and the former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans.

Press Association

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