Karzai to Receive International Rescue Committee's Freedom Award
|Afghan President Hamid Karzai. (Photo: Peter Bussian/IRC)|
The International Rescue Committee, the global humanitarian aid organization, will bestow its prestigious Freedom Award on Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai at the IRC's annual benefit dinner November 13 in New York.
"The award will recognize Hamid Karzai's leadership of Afghanistan as it strives for peace and freedom after more than two decades of turmoil," said George Rupp, president of the IRC, who made the announcement today in Kabul.
"Because the IRC has been assisting uprooted Afghans for nearly 22 years, we especially appreciate President Karzai's determination to help his people return home after their long exile," Dr. Rupp said.
At a meeting in his Kabul office today, President Karzai told Dr. Rupp he would be "honored to accept the award." He said, "As president of a country with the largest number of refugees, I am familiar with IRC's outstanding work to protect human rights and to assist people who are uprooted by war and violence, and particularly appreciate the IRC's outstanding contribution in emergency and long term assistance to the Afghans and refugees worldwide."
The first IRC Freedom Award was presented in 1957 to Willie Brandt, mayor of West Berlin, which was then an island of liberty surrounded by communist East Germany. Sen. John McCain of Arizona received the award last year. Other winners include Winston Churchill; Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, the Nobel Laureate and pro-democracy activist, and Lech Walesa, the former president of Poland. The full list of Freedom Award recipients can be found here.
U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Sam Brownback of Kansas are scheduled to attend the Freedom Award Dinner and speak about refugee issues. The master of ceremonies will be Tom Brokaw, managing editor and anchor of the NBC Nightly News.
The International Rescue Committee has been assisting Afghan refugees since 1980 through medical, public health, education, shelter, emergency, agriculture, income-generation, and community-building programs. In Afghanistan, the IRC works in and around Kabul, Jalalabad, Logar, Gardez, Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat. The IRC's Pakistan program provides wide-ranging assistance to refugees in and around Peshawar and across the Northwest Frontier Province. IRC programs aim to meet the immediate needs of uprooted Afghans, while supporting rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts that facilitate their return home.