For the first time in its history, Poland receives the prestigious Nansen Award from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The accolade honors Lena and Władysław Grochowski, along with their foundation, for their efforts in providing shelter, support, employment, and a safe haven for refugees in Poland, particularly those fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Empowering Refugees in Poland
The Lena Grochowska Foundation, led by philanthropist Władysław Grochowski and President Lena Grochowska, received recognition for its dedicated work with Ukrainian refugees since the escalation of the war on February 24, 2022. The foundation opened five Refugee Homes across the country, offering accommodation, education, and medical assistance, providing 584,579 nights of shelter for 14,463 individuals.
A Transformative Approach to Refugee Aid
The foundation transformed former office buildings and dormitories into refugee homes, emphasizing long-term stay arrangements. Lena Grochowska, the foundation’s president, sees the Nansen Award as acknowledgment of the need for such initiatives and rejects the notion of solving refugee issues by building walls at borders.
Private Sector’s Role in Crisis Response
Władysław Grochowski highlights that the Nansen Award is not just for the foundation but a recognition of the engagement of Poles in aiding Ukrainian refugees. The acknowledgment reflects Poland’s response in welcoming millions of Ukrainian women, children, elderly, and those with disabilities into their homes during challenging times.
Global Recognition for Local Initiative
The Nansen Award, named after Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian scientist, polar explorer, and the first High Commissioner for Refugees of the League of Nations, is the most prestigious accolade bestowed by UNHCR. The ceremony to honor Lena Grochowska Foundation will take place on December 13, 2023, in Geneva.