Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel received the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Peace Prize, which she was awarded for accepting more than 1 million 200 thousand refugees in 2015-2016 during the refugee crisis, at a ceremony in Ivory Coast.

The prize, named after Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Ivory Coast’s first president since independence from France in 1960, was presented to Merkel in the capital Yamoussoukro.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege, chairman of the jury that awarded the prize, praised Merkel for opening Germany’s doors to migrants “at a time when many other countries were fearful”.

“We admire your humanity, your spirit of solidarity, your keen sense of ethics and your inspiring leadership,” Mukwege said, adding that Merkel had shown the public and decision-makers that in times of crisis not only the rights of others must be defended, but that every society needs more than ever to respect and protect human rights without discrimination.

Accepting the award, Merkel brought up the current refugee crises, especially the war in Ukraine, and said: “We thought the time for war in Europe had passed. But since February 24th of last year, when Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine took place, we have come to the sad conclusion that this is not the case. This has shaken Europe to its core.”

Merkel, 68, a physicist before entering politics, served as German Chancellor for 16 years. In October last year, Merkel received the Nansen Prize from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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