Winners of the Roland Berger Human Dignity Award 2014/15 announced

The Roland Berger Human Dignity Award 2014/15 goes to the Maltese lawyer and director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Malta, Dr. Katrine Camilleri, the Eritrean-Italian human rights activist, Dr. Alganesc Fessaha, and the Congolese school organization, Petite Flamme. The award ceremony is taking place on April 29, 2015 in Berlin. Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is giving the laudatory speech.

The Roland Berger Foundation is conferring the Roland Berger Human Dignity Award for the sixth time on April 29, 2015. The focus of this year’s award ceremony is refugees.

The 2014/15 Roland Berger Human Dignity Award is being presented to Dr. Katrine Camilleri, a lawyer and director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Malta, for her longstanding and successful commitment to refugee rights. For almost two decades, she has provided legal advice and moral support to thousands of boat people who survived the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean and made it to the island of Malta where they are temporarily kept in administrative detention centers. Dr. Camilleri has headed the Malta office of the international Jesuit Refugee Service since 2011. In 2002, the organization was the first to offer regular legal assistance to refugees in Malta’s detention centers. Since then, Dr. Camilleri and her staff of 18 have supported thousands of refugees, giving them legal advice, organizing visits, providing psychological support and facilitating access to healthcare.

Another award winner is the Eritrean-Italian human rights activist Dr. Alganesc Fessaha, who provides humanitarian assistance to African refugees in North Africa, frees refugees from the clutches of human traffickers, and draws the world’s attention to the plight of refugees who suffer terrible maltreatment at the hands of people smugglers in Egypt’s Sinai desert and in Libya. Dr. Fessaha travels regularly to the Sinai and Libya, where, at great personal risk and with the help of local power brokers, she tracks down kidnap victims, gets them released from torture chambers without paying a ransom, and hands them over to the UNHCR or other refugee organizations. In the past five years, Dr. Fessaha has managed to free 550 refugees from the hands of traffickers and 2,300 from government prisons in the Sinai. In a bid to render humanitarian aid to torture survivors and other refugees long term, Dr. Fessaha got together with other medics and friends to found the NGO Gandhi in 2003, which looks after refugees and orphans in 12 North African countries and establishes feeding and healthcare programs in refugee camps.

The Congolese school project Petite Flamme, headed by Dada Adeline Diambu Mbinda and Odon Makela Dhombazi Basosa, is receiving the award in recognition of its longstanding and successful efforts to provide future prospects to children from the slums of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – reducing the incentives for them to leave their homeland and become refugees. Petite Flamme was founded by the Christian Focolare Movement (a Catholic community that grew up in Italy in the first half of the 20th century) in Kinshasa in 1996 under the leadership of German theologian Dr. Monika-Maria Wolff, and now runs 12 schools for 2,200 children from desperately poor families. Petite Flamme is the only school organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where children get schooling, school uniforms, food and healthcare.

The award is also paying tribute to the outstanding work of founder Dr. Monika-Maria Wolff and that of retired Rear Admiral Henning Bess and his wife Jule Müller, who have been supervising the ongoing support for the project from Germany since 2006. As the leader of the German contingent of the EUFOR mission providing security for the first democratic elections in the Congo in 2006, Henning Bess visited Petite Flamme schools with his 780 German troops. Many of the soldiers began to sponsor children straight away and still sponsor them to this day.

Founder Prof. Dr. h.c. Roland Berger commented on the selection of this year’s award winners: “The topic is undoubtedly one of the most pressing problems of our times: last year alone, tragic boat accidents in the Mediterranean claimed 3,500 lives. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, almost 51.2 million people worldwide are currently fleeing unbearable situations. Many of them are trying to get to Europe and Germany. With this year’s Roland Berger Human Dignity Award we are paying tribute to the extraordinary dedication of two courageous women who campaign tirelessly for the protection of refugee rights, and we are honoring an organization providing education and healthcare to children in one of the world’s poorest regions in an effort to give them better prospects for a future in their homeland and stop them from ever needing to flee.”

The award ceremony is taking place on April 29, 2015 in Berlin. Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is giving the laudatory speech; the former President of the European Commission Prof. Dr. Romano Prodi, member of the Awards Committee of the Roland Berger Foundation, and founder Prof. Dr. h.c. Roland Berger will be awarding the accolades.

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