Detailed Introduction to the 2017 Laureates
Laureate Achievements 1. Gino Strada
The Albert Schweitzer of the 21st Century
Who Protected Middle East and African Refugees
Gino Strada is an Italian humanitarian surgeon who has devoted himself to spreading emergency medical aid in at least 16 countries in the Middle East and Africa over the past 25 years. He has helped save lives by providing free-of-charge emergency medical relief to 7 million refugees with great love for humanity transcending national borders, and has taken the lead in the anti-war campaign to protect and dignify human rights, thus contributing to the building of global peace.
Born 21 April 1948 in Milan, Italy
1978 Postgraduate school, specialist in Emergency Surgery, University of Milan
2004 Honorary degree, Engineering, Basilicata University
2006 Doctor of Humane Letters, Colorado College of Colorado Springs
■ Professional Background
• 1978-1984 Surgeon, Institute of Emergency Surgery, University of Milan (Italy)
• 1981 Visiting Surgeon, Groote Schuur Hospital, Capetown, South Africa.
• 1981 Visiting Surgeon, Harefield Hospital, Harefield, U.K.
• 1981-1982 Visiting Surgeon, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA
• 1983-1984 Visiting Surgeon, Stanford University, CA, USA
• 1985-1986 Surgeon, Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Hospital of Bergamo (Italy)
• 1987-1988 Surgeon, Emergency Department, Rho Hospital, Italy
• 1989 Surgeon, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Hospital, Quetta, Pakistan
• 1990 Surgeon, ICRC Dessie’ Hospital, Dessie’, Ethiopia
• 1990 Surgeon, ICRC Hospital, Khao-I-Dang, Thailand
• 1991 Surgeon, ICRC Hospital, Kabul, Afghanistan
• 1991 Chief Surgeon, Hospital of Ayacucho, Ayacucho, Peru
• 1992 Surgeon, ICRC Hospital, Kabul, Afghanistan
• 1993 Chief Surgeon, Balbala Hospital, Djibouti
• 1993 Chief Surgeon, Berbera Hospital, Somalia
• 1994 Surgeon, Koshevo Hospital, Bosnia-Herzegovina
• 1994 - 2007 Chief Surgeon, EMERGENCY Hospitals : Kigali, Rwanda / Suleimania and Erbil, North Iraq / Battambang, Cambodia / Anabah and Kabul, Afghanistan / Asmara, Eritrea
• 2007-2014 Cardiac Surgeon, Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery (Khartoum, Sudan)
• 1994-Present Founder and Executive Director of Emergency NGO
■ Major Awards
• 2003 : Antonio Feltrinelli Prize (Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei Foundation)
• 2015 : Right Livelihood Award (Right Livelihood Award Foundation)
• 2016 : ESTE Plaquette (European Society for Trauma and Emergency Surgery)
• 1996 : Published biography “Buskashi, A Journey Inside War”
Featured in documentary “Jung, In the Land of the Mujaheedin”
Featured in PBS documentary “Afghanistan 1380”
• 1999 : Published biography “Green Parrots : A War Surgeon's Diary” and was awarded the Viareggio Versilia Prize
• 2011 : Published “Emergency”
• 2013 : A short documentary film called "Open Heart" was made about Dr. Strada's work with the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Documentary.
■ Key Achievements
1. Disseminating emergency aid at the forefront of conflict in Africa ∙ Middle East
Gino Strada (68) is an Italian surgeon who, for 25 years, has been providing humanitarian relief for refugees under threat in conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East.
He began his career as a war doctor under the International Committee of the Red Cross (IRCR) in 1989, and in 1994 established the international emergency medical organization Emergency, which aims to provide high quality, free medical services to war victims and the poor. As of 2016, Emergency has more than 60 hospitals, surgical centers, rehabilitation centers, pediatric clinics, first aid clinics, health centers, maternity centers and heart clinics in 16 countries in the world's most dangerous and vulnerable areas from Afghanistan to Sudan and has saved more than 7 million lives.
In 2007, the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery became the first such facility in South Sudan, Africa, providing free high-quality heart surgery to patients in 24 African countries, performing more than 42,000 cardiac examinations and more than 5,000 surgeries. The center received world class ratings for its work. Since 2009, he has operated the only free-of-charge pediatric hospital in the Central African Republic. In 2014, when the Ebola virus (EVD) spread in West Africa, at the request of the Sierra Leone government, he operated what was the only Ebola Treatment Center in Africa (100 beds). Since July 2014, he has been practicing medicine in the Middle East to address the Syrian refugee crisis. Recently, his organization has been operating 11 medical facilities in Italy to support the refugees rapidly migrating into Europe.
Presently, Emergency is working closely with the United Nations to deal effectively with tragedies that occur all over the world. In 2006, Dr. Strada became an official partner of the United Nations Office of Public Information, and has been a special adviser to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since 2015, making a remarkable contribution to the cause of world peace.
2. Taking the lead in protecting the dignity of human rights by guaranteeing the “right to be cured”
Gino Strada has actively promoted the value of peace, solidarity, and human rights, providing the best treatment without discrimination for the poor, championing "the right to be cured" as a basic and inalienable right of all people.
In Africa, where there is little awareness of the availability of health care, his focus is on spreading the perception that health care supports the basic human right to live like human beings, and that the state should take the lead. Through his active efforts, the governments of 12 African nations (Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda) have signed Emergency's "Manifesto for a Human Rights-based Medicine" (a medical declaration of human rights) that recognizes "the right of people to receive medical treatment" and will make effort to provide health care services free of charge.
In 2010, 11 countries led the African Network of Medical Excellence (ANME), a project to build the best medical centers to strengthen the African continental medical system. In 2007, Dr. Strada established one of the world's leading cardiac surgery centers in South Sudan, and is now building eleven centers that specialize in pediatrics, obstetrics, and cancer care.
Emergency’s medical staff are providing free medical care to all without discrimination under its three principles of "equality," "high quality health care," and "social responsibility," and is conducting in-depth medical education and training with the goal of handing over medical facilities to local health authorities whenever local medical practitioners are able to successfully perform their medical procedures.
3. Leading the peace culture with "anti-war" and "prohibition of production of anti-personnel landmines" campaigns
Gino Strada is engaged in anti-war movements with a solid moral and political position that war must be completely eliminated from the global village, as a source of coercion and violence that cannot be justified for any reason, and as brutality that tramples human dignity.
Gino Strada, who over decades has seen civilian casualties and human misery caused by land mines in conflict zones, in 1997, enthusiastically campaigned to ban the production of mines in Italy for use in war. In addition, he strongly opposed and campaigned against Italy's intervention in the war in Afghanistan in 2001, and in Iraq in 2003. In 2002, with the catch phrase "Let's stop the war, let's sign for peace," Emergency organized a massive campaign with half a million people protesting against the war. Based on rules for the implementation of the principle of refusal to go to war, as indicated in the UN Charter and the Italian Constitution, he collected 137,319 signatures, and appealed to the Italian Parliament on June 17, 2003.
In 2003, as the conflicts in Afghanistan and then Iraq intensified, Emergency began a campaign to collect signatures for the anti-war movement demanding that "government groups should cease fire before hatred and violence become the only language of humankind." It was signed by world-renowned figures including MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, Le Monde newspaper Diplomatic editor Ignacio Ramonet, Former President of Italy (1992-1999) Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchù, 1986 Nobel Prize winner in Medicine Rita Levi Montalcini, 1997 Nobel Prize winner in Literature Dario Fo, and 1988 Nobel Prize winner in Physics Jack Steinberger, among others. When the Italian Foreign Ministry, after intervening in the war, said that they would support Emergency's activities in Afghanistan, Dr. Strada rejected them saying they had violated their moral legitimacy.
Dr. Gino Strada is appealing to the world that, "In order to guarantee a peaceful future for mankind, war, which denies the human rights necessary for survival, should disappear, and the best thing the present generation can do for future generations is to work together to make a world without war."
Laureate Achievements 2. Sakena Yacoobi
Proposed a fundamental solution to the refugee settlement crisis
Mother of refugee education
Sakena Yacoobi, who has witnessed the suffering life of Afghan refugees who have been scarred by decades of war, is convinced that education is the key to hope for future generations. In 1995, the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) was established to provide a systematic educational environment, providing education and vocational training to 13 million refugees, and in particular contributing to the improvement of the human rights and social status of Muslim women. Even under life-threatening circumstances under the Taliban regime, Dr. Yacoobi has educated more than 3,000 girls in over 80 underground "secret" schools. Unlike the first-generation Afghan refugees, whose pioneering efforts have been devastated by despair and poverty, second and third-generation refugees have become leaders for their community's reconstruction.
Born 17 March 1950 in Herat, Afghanistan
1977 Bachelor of Biology, Pacific University (California, USA)
1981 Master's Degree in Public Health, Loma Linda University (California, USA)
2008 Honorary Doctorate of Humanitarian Service, Loma Linda University
2010 Honorary Doctorate of Education from Santa Clara University
2013 Honorary Doctor of Laws, Princeton University
2014 Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, University of St. Joseph
■ Professional Background
• 1982-Present : Established Creating Hope International (CHI) in Michigan, USA
• 1982-1991 : Health Consultant
• 1989-1992 : D Etre University (Michigan, USA)
• 1992-1995 : International Rescue Committee (IRC) women's education and teacher training program
• 1992-2001 : Operated more than 80 underground "secret" schools for girls (3,000 students)
• 1995-Present : Founder and President of Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL)
• 2007-Present : Founded four "Professor Sakena Yacoobi Private School" facilities in Kabul and Herat, Afghanistan (K-12), the "Professor Sakena Yacoobi Private Hospital and Clinic", and Radio Meraj 94.1FM
■ Major Awards
• 2004 : Women's Rights Prize (Peter Gruber Foundation)
• 2005 : Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize
• 2005 : Democracy Award (National Endowment for Democracy)
• 2013 : Opus Prize (Opus Prize Foundation)
• 2015 : World Innovation Summit for Education Prize (Qatar Foundation)
■ AIL Key Features
• Developed grassroots models to strengthen the capacity of Afghan women, foster women leaders, promote women's health, and provide education
• Provides quality educational opportunities in kindergartens, elementary schools, universities, women's education centers, and educational learning centers
• Literacy class operation, operation of income-generating vocational training project for women who are in need of financial support
• Operated 80 secret schools under the Taliban regime in 4 regions of Afghanistan and successfully educated over 3,000 girls without incident
• Provides leadership and human rights education for Afghan women
• Provides health education and basic medical services : family planning, antenatal / postpartum care, midwifery
• Computer management training
• Operates advisory clinic for poor Afghan women
■ Key Achievements
1. Devoted her life to Afghan "refugee education"
Sakena Yacoobi, the mother of Afghan education, has been a pioneering and devoted refugee educator for 21 years with the belief that education is the key to social reconstruction even under severe conditions of war and occupation.
Dr. Yacoobi began educating teachers in Afghan refugee camps where they had struggled to survive after decades of war and the complete collapse of the education and health system, and began to establish schools for boys and girls. In 1995, the Afghan Institute for Learning (AIL) was established to provide systematic refugee education, providing education and vocational training to 13 million women and children. Despite the Taliban regime's ban on women's schools, it successfully operated and educated more than 3,000 girls without incident.
Currently, AIL provides curricula from kindergarten to university education, and 44 education centers provide basic literacy education and various vocational courses, opening opportunities to refugees for income generation. Ultimately, it has been providing education in leadership, democracy, self-confidence, and capacity-building, aimed at fostering refugees to become independent citizens capable of critical thinking.
As a result, refugees who have been educated at AIL have improved their self-confidence, economic power, and problem-solving abilities, and have been leading a successful community rebuilding process. The Afghan refugee community, which has experienced displacement for more than 30 years, now feels that education is a pathway to a better future and a key element for the country's reconstruction, and that educated young people will play a leading role in Afghanistan's future.
2. Presenting a holistic solution to the problem of the resettlement of refugees
Dr. Yacoobi introduced a holistic approach to rebuilding communities destroyed by war, providing an innovative solution to the problem of resettlement. This approach is a comprehensive and long-term solution to the problem of society as a whole, in order to overcome the inadequate educational, economic, socio-cultural and institutional constraints of refugee camps. It contributes to improving the overall quality of life and community development for Afghan refugees.
Creating Hope International, an organization Dr. Yacoobi founded, is implementing a holistic approach by operating 4 private schools, hospitals and radio stations in the private sector. Since 1996, it has provided health education to more than 2 million women and children, which has significantly reduced infant mortality and maternal mortality during pregnancy and childbirth. It also continues to provide 'love and forgiveness' workshops to transform the refugees, who have been surrounded by social deprivation and anger, into positive leaders who can innovate in their local communities. Through radio broadcasting, it reaches more than a million people a day, dealing with social trends, health, family success models, human rights, literature, music, etc., and supports the desire of the refugees for a peaceful and fruitful life.
The entire community rebuilding process has been carried out in cooperation with the community itself, allowing the community to build a sense of ownership in the project. As a result of consultation, and organizing the projects needed by the community, rather than one-sided aid, it has revolutionized the refugee resettlement dynamic, providing a win-win situation for both the local community and government agencies.
3. Contributing to the improvement of human rights and the status of Muslim women
Sakena Yacoobi is committed to educating Muslim women with the belief that "to educate girls is to educate future generations." Due to some elements of Islamic culture opposing women's education, and as a result of protracted conflicts, Afghanistan has recorded the world's lowest literacy rate, with only 12.6% of women over 15 years of age being able to read and write. In order to address this serious situation, Dr. Yacoobi has been aggressively persuasive and has changed prejudices about women's education. As a result, many women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan are now educated, and in recent years Dr. Yacoobi even established a women’s university. She has provided family planning services and contraception advice in order to liberate women from unwanted childbirth. She also runs a women's legal counseling center in Afghanistan and provides legal advice services for women on issues such as domestic abuse, child custody, the right to inheritance, and marriage without consent.
Women who were isolated in their homes are now able to gather together and receive education through Women's Networking Centers. Women are given the opportunity to take part in classes, read and learn, engage in income-generating activities, participate in society, all of which has greatly improved their access to human rights and a higher quality of life.