Ethiopia: Henry Dunant Medals for Outstanding Humanitarian Service Awarded At Red Cross Red Crescent Council of Delegates

press release

Geneva — Three Henry Dunant medals for outstanding humanitarian service were awarded at a ceremony in Geneva today. The medal is the highest award given by the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.

The recipients are:

Dr Bosko Jakovljevic, doctor of law from the University of Belgrade and former director of international relations of the Yugoslav Red Cross.

Dr Shimelis Adugna, former president of the Ethiopian Red Cross and former minister of labour and social affairs of Ethiopia.

Dr Astrid Nøklebye Heiberg, professor of psychiatry, former member of parliament and deputy minister of health and social affairs in Norway, former president of the Norwegian Red Cross and former president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The medals were awarded during the Council of Delegates, composed of representatives from the 187 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, IFRC and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The medal, named after the founder of the Movement, is awarded every two years and recognizes exceptional individual service and acts of great devotion to the Red Cross Red Crescent cause.

The Henry Dunant medal is a red cross embossed with the profile of the Movement's founder, attached to a green ribbon. The award was created by the Council of Delegates in 1963, on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Movement, and the first medals were awarded in 1969 at the Istanbul International Conference.

This award is given out by the Standing Commission of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, for more information on the work of the Standing Commission please visit: www.standcom.ch

Profiles of the recipients:

Bosko Jakovljevic, joined the former Yugoslav Red Cross as a volunteer in his 20s. The Red Cross has been an integral part of his life ever since. After completing his studies he embarked on a professional career at the Yugoslav Red Cross, eventually rising to the position of director of international relations. Dr Jakovljevic has relentlessly promoted international humanitarian law (IHL) within and outside the Movement and greatly contributed to its development. He has been actively involved in the National Society Commission on IHL, serving as its president from 1990 to 2000, and is still its vice-president. His services have been solicited not only by various Movement components but also by numerous universities and other external organizations. His expertise in, and commitment to, IHL has won him high esteem and inspired many to follow in his footsteps. Dr Jakovljevic is deeply sensitive to human suffering and continues to be involved in many humanitarian activities in the Balkan region. Since his retirement in 1986, Dr. Jakovljevic has been an active volunteer with the Red Cross of Serbia. The tribute reads that Bosko Jakovljeviy was awarded the Henry Dunant medal 'for his personal commitment, his important contribution to the development of humanitarian activities and his work in promoting the Movement's Fundamental Principles and ideals.'

Shimelis Adugna, joined the Ethiopian Red Cross Society after a long career in public administration. After studying social services administration in India, Shimelis Adugna returned to Ethiopia and contributed in many areas to the improvement of the lives of his countrymen. A successful path in the public sector brought him to the position of minister of labour and social affairs and numerous other positions of responsibility in the service of his country. As a commissioner for the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission of the Ethiopian government, Shimelis Adugna made considerable contributions to the safety of many Ethiopians affected by drought in 1984-85 by mobilizing international resources and providing support to Ethiopian Red Cross Society response operations. In 2000 he became president of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society. During his eight-year tenure, Shimelis Adugna vigorously developed and strengthened the National Society's capacity to respond to disaster and humanitarian needs. As vice-president of the IFRC, he helped launch and promote important initiatives for Africa. He received the medal 'for his personal commitment, his important contribution to the development of humanitarian activities and his work in promoting the Movement's Fundamental Principles and ideals.'

Astrid Nøklebye Heiberg, is a respected professor of psychiatry. Her position as deputy minister of health and social affairs in the early 1980s brought her into contact with the Norwegian Red Cross, where she became a volunteer and was increasingly involved in the society's activities. After her term as member of parliament, Dr Heiberg was elected president of the Norwegian Red Cross in 1993. She steadily stepped up the organization's development and its involvement in Movement operations and programmes. As the first female president of the IFRC in 1997, Dr Heiberg set an example with her integrity, professionalism and unwavering commitment. While her personal warmth and intellect put everyone at ease, she showed steadfast determination in her efforts to achieve agreed humanitarian goals. Dr Heiberg was an ardent promoter of efforts to build the capacity of National Societies.

During her tenure, the regional capacity to respond to disasters and other emergencies improved considerably. She made a further important contribution by mobilizing resources to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic throughout Africa and beyond. She was awarded the medal for her 'personal commitment, her contribution to the development of humanitarian activities, her work in promoting the Movement's Fundamental Principles and ideals, and her contribution to restoring the Movement's unity and credibility.'

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