Dr Rebecca Dali, Executive Director of the Centre for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI), has won the 2017 UN Sérgio Vieira de Mello Prize for her contribution in caring for Boko Haram victims in the north-east.
The Sergio Vieira de Mello award is received biennially, to draw the world’s attention to the unnoticed efforts by individuals, groups and organisations “doing something special and unique to reconcile people and parties in conflict”.
World Watch Monitor explained that she was amongst the first to visit the Chibok parents after the mass kidnap in April, 2014 and also helped to restore women who had lived with Boko Haram back into their communities.
Her organisation has also been taking care of children born of girls abducted by Boko Haram who are referred to as “bad blood children,” while advocating against the double victimisation of the women.
Her organisation was created in 2009, the year Boko Haram’s insurgency in Borno State began, before the violence spread to other states and neighboring countries.
The External Relations Officer of United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Hanson Tamfu, said that, Dr Rebecca was the first humanitarian actor to set up a livelihood programme for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees in Madagali and Michika local government areas of Adamawa.
He said that the centre took the risk of reaching areas considered inaccessible and dangerous at the peak of the Boko Haram activities at a time when other NGOs could not.
Dr Rebecca, who fled the town of Michika, in Adamawa, with her husband in September, 2014, dedicated the award to her lost son and the Chibok girls.
“I dedicate this award to my son Timothy, who disappeared in the Jos crisis (21 March 2011), to the abducted Chibok girls and many who are still in captivity. Praying for all of you to come home. And if you are gone in the process of suffering, until we meet in heaven where there is no injustice and threat but everlasting peace,” she said.
The award ceremony will take place on 21 August in Geneva, during the celebration of World Humanitarian Day.