Human Interest

Advocates for refugees, environment and health win ‘alternative Nobels’

Copenhagen, Sep 28 (EFE).- A European migrant-rescue organization, a Cambodian environmental rights group, a Kenyan environmental activist and a Ghanaian physician pioneering abortion rights have all been awarded at this year’s ‘alternative Nobels.’

The 2023 Right Livelihood laureates “stand up to save lives, preserve nature and safeguard the dignity and livelihoods of communities around the world,” Sweden’s Right Livelihood Foundation said in its announcement on Thursday.

According to the jury, SOS Mediterranee was recognized “for its life-saving humanitarian search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea.”

Founded in May 2015 by citizens “in response to the deaths in the Mediterranean and the failure of the European Union to prevent these deaths,” SOS Mediterranee works as a European network with teams in Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland, jointly financing and operating a rescue ship that has helped more than 38,000 people on one of the world’s deadliest migration routes.

The jury also awarded the youth-led environmental rights organization Mother Nature Cambodia, for “fearless and engaging activism to preserve Cambodia’s natural environment in the context of a highly restricted democratic space.”

Among the organization’s achievements are successful campaigns to stop the construction of a hydroelectric dam that threatened an indigenous community and helping end the corrupt export of sand from the coastal estuaries of Koh Kong, which was destroying the local ecosystem and fishing grounds.

Since 2015, amid government hostility, 11 of its activists have been jailed and dozens arrested, the award’s foundation said.

The jury also recognized Kenyan Phyllis Omido for her “groundbreaking struggle to secure land and environmental rights for local communities while advancing the field of environmental law.”

Dubbed the “Erin Brockovich of East Africa,” Omido’s activism has closed 17 toxic plants in Kenya and has created a grassroots network that also extends to Uganda and Tanzania.

Ghanaian physician Eunice Brookman-Amissah was also awarded “for pioneering discussions on women’s reproductive rights in Africa, paving the way for liberalized abortion laws and improved safe abortion access,” noted the jury.

Once holding anti-abortion views, Brookman-Amissah changed her focus after one of her pediatric patients died from an unsafe abortion, the foundation said. Her advocacy has contributed to a 40 percent decline in abortion-related deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa since 2000.

The Right Livelihood Award has recognized nearly 200 people and organizations since it was established in 1980 by the Swedish-German writer and MEP Jakob von Uexküll. EFE


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