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The Crown Prince opens centenary exhibition on Fridtjof Nansen

HRH Crown Prince Haakon opens a new exhibition about Fridtjof Nansen on World Refugee Day, 20 June. In 2022, it will be a hundred years since Nansen received the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Nobel Peace Center celebrates the anniversary with an exhibition on Nansen’s humanitarian legacy.

Press release from the Nobel Peace Center:

“Fridtjof Nansen is best known as a polar explorer and scientist, but he was also a real pioneer of humanitarian work with refugees and victims of famine,” says Nobel Peace Center Executive Director Kjersti Fløgstad. “With this exhibition, we want to show the enormous importance of Nansen's humanitarian efforts and how he continues to inspire those who help displaced people.”

Polar hero, researcher and diplomat Fridtjof Nansen received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922. He won the award for his work with prisoners of war, starving people and refugees after the First World War. In the exhibition Compassion in action: The legacy of Fridtjof Nansen, the Nobel Peace Center highlights Nansen's humanitarian work using original documents and photographs, some of them Nansen's own. The exhibition also tells the story of five winners of the Nansen Refugee Award, which is awarded by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to individuals or organizations that go above and beyond the call of duty to protect displaced people.

The exhibition will be opened by Crown Prince Haakon on World Refugee Day on 20 June. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and UNHCR will also participate in the event.

“For the first time, the number of displaced people the world has exceeded 100 million. The vast majority of them receive far too little attention and support. We must now be inspired by the work Nansen did by speaking out on behalf of the most vulnerable and securing the rights of refugees and stateless people,” says Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council. “Norway as a nation of peace and an important humanitarian player must be conscious of how we manage the legacy of Nansen.”

Nansen was commissioned by the League of Nations to lead the work of returning prisoners of war after the First World War, and his enormous aid operation transported 450,000 prisoners home. He became the League of Nations' first High Commissioner for Refugees and introduced the “Nansen passport”, which gave hundreds of thousands of stateless people the opportunity to cross national borders. He later worked for the famine-stricken in Soviet Russia, driven by a strong desire to help after seeing their suffering with his own eyes. He worked diligently to finance the relief work, using his own pictures of starving children during lecture tours to raise money.

“Is there a member of this assembly who is willing to say that rather than helping the Soviet government, he will allow 20,000,000 people to suffer starvation?” Fridtjof Nansen to the League of Nations Assembly in Geneva in 1921.

Several of the photos Nansen took on his travels are displayed in the exhibition at the Nobel Peace Center. “Nansen was also a pioneer in the sense that he was one of the first to use photographs to create sympathy and raise money for people in crisis. His pictures still arouse strong emotions, and their connection to today’s situation in Ukraine makes them even more disturbing to see,” says Kjersti Fløgstad.

The exhibition Compassion in action: The legacy of Fridtjof Nansen runs until 31 December 2022.

For the Press

The exhibition will be opened by Crown Prince Haakon on 20 June 2022 at 10.00. Doors closes 09:45. Press must register to [email protected] by Friday 17 June at 12:00.

Interviews can be arranged after the event with Nobel Peace Center Executive Director Kjersti Fløgstad and NRC Excecutive Director Field Operations Magnhild Vasset. Please contact us to schedule interviews. UNHCR’s spokesperson for Norway, Anders Aalbu will also be present and available to the media. Contact: [email protected], +46 707 57 6285.



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