Gino Strada, surgeon and co-founder of EMERGENCY, received the Sunhak Peace Prize in Seoul, South Korea today, awarded each year to individuals and organisations that have distinguished themselves by making an important contribution to peace and human development.
“The medical aid provided to the victims of armed conflicts”, “the efforts in protecting the rights and dignity of people by maintaining that the right to be cured is a basic and inalienable human right,” and “the active involvement in campaigning against war and for the ban of antipersonnel landmines”: these are what motivated giving the prize to Gino Strada. Since 1994, the year of its founding, EMERGENCY has offered free, high-quality health care to eight million people in 17 countries.
“It is an honour for me to receive the Sunhak Peace Prize, particularly in times increasingly marked by war and violence when speaking of peace is perceived as unrealistic and utopian,” said Gino Strada during his award speech. “Eight individuals own as much as the poorest 3.6 billion people. Meanwhile, every day 1 in 9 people goes to bed hungry. Are we still surprised that people increasingly embark on perilous journeys and strive to find a better future? They had the dream of living in peace, but we are deaf to their hopes” he explained.
The 2017 Sunhak Peace Prize aims to contribute to research towards a peaceful solution to the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War. In 2015, over 65 million people were required to leave their own home because of conflict, persecution, and human rights violations.
“The citizens of the world must remember the value each human being has, which binds us together, and through solidarity and cooperation we need to solve this problem together,” says Il-Sik Hong, former President of the Korea University in Seoul, and chair of the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee.
The 2017 Sunhak Peace Prize awards ceremony took place during the 2017 Universal Peace Federation World Summit, with over 800 people present, including ministers, parliamentarians, and representatives of the academic world and humanitarian organizations, coming from over 100 countries.
Gino Strada concluded his speech with a special appeal. “If we wish to work for the survival of the human kind, the abolition of war is necessary and inevitable. It falls within the mandate of the United Nations, founded over 70 years ago, but still today very little has been done to fulfil their core mandate. EMERGENCY has come to believe that the abolition of war is the only realistic and human solution to end human suffering and promote universal human rights. With this objective in mind, EMERGENCY is working to launch an international campaign involving world-renowned personalities as well as ordinary citizens. It might sound utopian but in fact, it is a realistic and achievable objective. It is up to the world citizens to take action and conquer peace. Renouncing the logic of war and practicing fraternity and solidarity is not only desirable but urgently needed if we want the human experiment to continue. Today I am very happy to have the chance to warmly invite all of you to join us in this effort”.
Together with Gino Strada, the prize was given to Doctor Sakena Yacoobi, Afghanistan’s “mother of education”, for having “developed an innovative vision for education the Afghan Institute of Learning that she founded, providing education and health services for more than 13 million refugees”.