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Nadia Murad, a Yazidi rights activist and the first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and Denis Mukwege, a gynecologist who helps victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, were awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize today.
The decision to jointly-award the prestigious prize, has the potential to help end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, the UN said - a cause which is central to the Organization's work. Welcoming the announcement by the academy in Oslo, Norway, on behalf of the UN in Geneva, spokesperson Alessandra Vellucci explained that eradicating sexual violence in conflict remains a priority.
“I will recall that this is a cause that is very close to the United Nations and as you know we have a Special Representative [on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, who is also working in towards this,” Ms. Vellucci said. “I’m sure that this Nobel Peace Prize will help advance the cause of ending sexual violence as a weapon of conflict. Congratulations to the winners.”
The Nobel development was also welcomed by the UNODC which appointed Ms. Murad Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking in 2016 – a reference to her brutal ordeal at the hands of ISIL extremists in Iraq.
UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov hailed Ms. Murad's courage and resilience saying that it “reminds us that we must always listen to the people who have been most affected and harmed by the crimes we seek to stop”.
The testimonies of survivors like Ms. Murad “must inform and strengthen our efforts to achieve justice”, Mr. Fedotov added.
Dr. Mukwege, who has treated thousands of rape victims at his hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been shortlisted for the Nobel Prize several times.
As a surgeon, he is known for helping survivors of rape in eastern DRC and he was the focus of a film, The Man Who Mends Women.
He experienced conflict at first hand in the region, when patients and staff at the hospital he ran were reportedly killed by soldiers.
After founding a hospital offering free medical care to victims of terrible sexual abuse and violence, Dr. Mukwege turned to advocacy, after reportedly realizing that some rape survivors were the daughters of women who had been raped years earlier.