2017 laureate: Nigerian advocate Dr. Rebecca Dali

The 2017 Sergio Vieira de Mello Prize was awarded to Dr. Rebecca Dali, a strong advocate to victims of religious violence in the northern part of her country, Nigeria. She devotes her time and energy to help widows and orphans victims of Boko Haram’s insurgency. She is doing this good work through her organisation, the Center for Caring, Empowerment and Peace Initiative, which she has founded in 1989. She provides victims not only with psychological help to overcome the horrors they have been through, but also with basic material like sowing machines, seeds, fertilizers to help them start a new life in a community which too often reject them upon their return, especially girls who come back pregnant or with a new baby.

She has taken many risks to achieve her goal, going as far as travelling extensively in remote areas and even encountering Boko Haram militants on her way to Chibok. Fortunately, she had her live spare, most probably because of her good work.

Dr a Dali is an experience scientist and humanitarian worker. Her training and research focused on the suffering of women and children in ethno-religious conflicts. This has given her a first-hand knowledge of the physical, psychological and economic sufferings, which the victims are going through during conflicts. She has written and published several articles, and seven books on the subject in which she has documented personal stories of survivors of Boko Haram’s insurgency, both Christians and Muslims.

The Award ceremony took place on 21 August at the Palais des Nations in Geneva during the World Humanitarian Day commemoration.