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UN Refugee Agency Honors Ted Kennedy

The U.N. refugee agency has honored the late U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, calling him an "unparalleled champion of refugee protection and assistance for over 45 years."

The U.N.H.C.R. announced Tuesday it is giving the Nansen Refugee Award to Kennedy, who died in August.

Agency spokesman Tim Irwin says, "Ted Kennedy has probably done more for refugees than just about any other policy maker over the last half century. He began advocating on behalf of the displaced very early on in his political career."

His advocacy included the resettlement of refugees following the Vietnam War.

"And (he) continued right up until the end of his political career. He played a very central role in the resettlement of Iraqi refugees, who were displaced by violence in their country," he says.

An annual honor

The award consists of a commemorative medal and a $100,000 prize donated by the governments of Norway and Switzerland.

The Nansen Refugee Award is presented annually, honoring individuals or organizations whose work has improved the lives of refugees and IDPS, internally displaced people.

"It's named after the first High Commissioner for Refugees (Fridtjof Nansen), who was an ambassador and diplomat from…Norway and who played a significant role in helping refugees himself," Irwin says.

Kennedy had been informed in June that he would be this year's recipient.

"He had a role both domestically within the United States and internationally. Domestically, he was very much at the forefront of pushing through legislation, which assisted refugees…. He was an internationally known statesman. He was able to influence other governments and lead by example," he says.

The Nansen Award ceremony takes place on October 28th in Washington, D.C.