Aurora Humanitarian Initiative
- The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity;
- The Aurora Dialogues: a series of thoughtful discussions among leading members of the political, humanitarian, and business communities to raise awareness and address some of the world’s most pressing humanitarian issues;
- The Aurora Humanitarian Index: an international survey exploring the causes and trends behind the “compassion gap” that exists between what the general public says they feel about humanitarian issues and how they actually engage with these crises;
- 100 LIVES, a global media and content creation project aimed at preserving the memory of the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide, as well as those who intervened on their behalf a century ago. It is also a platform to present the stories of the Armenian diaspora and its connections to the Armenian heritage, culture and values;
- The Aurora Gratitude Projects: humanitarian and educational initiatives which help children, refugees and other vulnerable citizens around the world.
Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity
What is the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity?
The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity is a global humanitarian award established to recognize modern day heroes and the exceptional impact their actions have made on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes in the face of adversity. On behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, an Aurora Prize Laureate is honored each year between 2015 and 2023 (in remembrance of the eight years of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1923) with a US $1,000,000 award which gives the Laureate a unique opportunity to continue the cycle of giving and support the organizations that have inspired the humanitarian action.
- The Nominator may not be an officer or employee or any other individual receiving remuneration for his or her services from the Nominee or any party affiliated with the Aurora Prize (Secretariat, Selection Committee, and Independent Observer).
- The Nominator may not be a family member or an officer or employee of the Nominee.
- Self-nominations are not permitted.
- Selection Committee members and their families are ineligible to submit nominations. However, Selection Committee members may invite and encourage nominations from the public and specifically reach out to organizations working in the field.
Members of the Selection Committee review a shortlist of candidates, drawing upon their own expertise, nomination forms and additional information assembled by the Secretariat to determine the Aurora Humanitarians.
- George Clooney (Selection Committee Co-Chair) – Co-Founder, Not On Our Watch; Humanitarian, performer and filmmaker
- Oscar Arias – Two-time President of Costa Rica; Nobel Laureate
- Lord Ara Darzi – Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London
- Shirin Ebadi – Human Rights Lawyer and Iran's first female judge; Nobel Laureate
- Gareth Evans – President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group; Former Australian Foreign Minister
- Leymah Gbowee – Executive Director of the Women Peace and Security Network (WIPSEN-Africa); Nobel Laureate
- Valery Gergiev – Artistic and General Director; Mariinsky Theatre; Principal Conductor of the Munich Philharmoniker
- Vartan Gregorian – Co-Founder, Aurora Humanitarian Initiative; President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York
- Hina Jilani – Former United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders
- Bernard Kouchner – Médecins Sans Frontières co-founder and former foreign minister of France
- Samantha Power – Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
- John Prendergast – Human Rights Activist and Founding Director; Enough Project
- Mary Robinson – Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Former President of Ireland
- Ernesto Zedillo – Director, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization; Former President of Mexico
Kyaw Hla Aung has been working tirelessly for decades, using his legal expertise to appeal for basic human rights for the stateless Rohingya people. His commitment to fight for justice for the hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees in Myanmar persecuted by the government, and for the children who no longer have access to education, remains stronger than ever. He sacrificed a total of 12 years in prison as a result of his mission, at huge personal cost to his own family.
The 2017 Aurora Prize was awarded to Dr. Tom Catena, a Catholic missionary from Amsterdam, New York who has saved thousands of lives as the sole doctor permanently based in Sudan’s war-ravaged Nuba Mountains .
2019 Aurora Prize
The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity’s Selection Committee has named three outstanding 2019 Aurora Humanitarians, recognized for performing acts of exceptional courage and their commitment to saving human life:
- Mr. Mirza Dinnayi, Co-Founder and Director of Luftbrücke Irak (Air Bridge Iraq), a humanitarian organization that flies Yazidi victims from Iraq to Germany for medical treatment. Mirza Dinnayi has helped several hundred women escape from the territories controlled by ISIS, personally taking part in missions to bring them back to safety, and delivered food and water to the Yazidis in isolated areas. Driven by his passion to save lives, he has found a way to overcome numerous bureaucratic and logistic obstacles to help the most vulnerable. Mr. Dinnayi has nominated three organizations that provide medical care and rehabilitation to victims of ISIS terror.
- Mr. Zannah Bukar Mustapha, lawyer, Director and Founder of Future Prowess Islamic Foundation – a school that provides education to some of the most deprived children in Maiduguri, Nigeria. In October 2016, he secretly traveled to meet with Boko Haram rebels in their Sambisa forest hideout during a media blackout and left with 21 children. Thirteen months later, supported by ICRC, the Swiss government and the Nigerian authorities, he negotiated the additional release of 82 girls. Zannah Bukar Mustapha has nominated three organizations that aim to reduce conflict through strong community effort and good governance.
- Ms. Huda Al-Sarari, lawyer and activist. Huda Al-Sarari is a brave and inspiring Yemeni human rights activist, who singlehandedly investigates, exposes and challenges a clandestine network of secret prisons run by foreign governments in Yemen, where thousands of men and boys have faced arbitrary detention. She has amassed incontrovertible evidence of the abuse that takes place within the prisons and succeeded in convincing Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to take up the cause. She has nominated an international organization that defends victims of extreme human rights abuse and two organizations that combat discrimination and promote equality.
2018 Aurora Prize
The 2018 Aurora Prize has recognized three Aurora Humanitarians who were chosen by the Selection Committee for their exceptional impact:
- Mr. Kyaw Hla Aung, Lawyer and Rohingya Leader, Myanmar – A Rohingya Muslim who, despite being imprisoned for a collective 12 years for peaceful protests against systematic discrimination and violence, uses his legal expertise to fight for equality, improvements in education and human rights for his community. He has nominated international organizations that provide medical aid and assistance to refugees in Myanmar.
- Fr. Héctor Tomás González Castillo, Founder of La 72, Mexico – A Franciscan friar who has provided shelter, food, water, counseling and legal assistance to more than 50,000 Central American immigrants along their often-harrowing journeys through Mexico, providing aid to all, including those who suffer traumatic attacks, attempted kidnappings and expulsions from their own countries. He has nominated organizations working to promote human rights for those living with HIV/AIDS and to provide cultural education to Mayans in Mexico.
- Mrs. Sunitha Krishnan, Co-Founder of Prajwala, India – A gang rape survivor turned women’s rights advocate who used her trauma as motivation to rescue, rehabilitate and reintegrate victims of sex trafficking and forced prostitution back into society, creating an organization that has positively impacted the lives of more than 17,800 women and children. She has nominated organizations that fight gender imbalance and sexual violence and trafficking throughout India.
- Ms. Fartuun Adan and Ms. Ilwad Elman, Founders of the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre, Somalia – Mother and daughter who are unwavering in their mission to protect human rights, women’s rights, and facilitate peace building, development and the rehabilitation of child soldiers amidst insecure and dangerous conditions.
- Ms. Jamila Afghani, Chairperson of the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organization, Afghanistan – a polio victim who accidentally received the gift of reading and has dedicated her life to bringing reading and education to girls and women, while enlisting the help of Muslim leaders of faith in her mission.
- Mr. Muhammad Darwish, Medical Doctor at the Madaya Field Hospital, Syria – A student of dentistry returned to his hometown and took on the full responsibilities of a medical doctor, began to perform medical procedures, offered care and maintained meticulous documentation of the conditions of patients, many of them children, affected by persisting violence, thus bringing international attention to the besieged area.
- Dr. Denis Mukwege, Gynecological Surgeon and Founder of the Panzi Hospital, The Democratic Republic of the Congo – An obstetrician turned gynecological surgeon who is providing physical, psychological and legal support to more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence in the war-torn country while fearlessly seeking to bring to justice those responsible.
2016 Aurora Prize
In addition to the Laureate, 2016 Aurora Prize also recognized three Humanitarians who were chosen by the Selection Committee for their exceptional impact:
- Dr. Tom Catena, the sole doctor at Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan. An American physician, Dr. Catena is the only doctor permanently based near the country’s border with South Sudan, and is therefore responsible for serving over 500,000 people in the region. Despite several bombings by the Sudanese government, Dr. Catena resides on the hospital grounds so that he may be on call at all times. In 2017, Dr. Catena was nominated for the Aurora Prize for the second time and became the Aurora Prize Laureate.
- Syeda Ghulam Fatima has worked tirelessly to eradicate bonded labor, one of the last remaining forms of modern slavery. Fatima is the general secretary of the Bonded Labour Liberation Front Pakistan (BLLF), which has liberated thousands of Pakistani workers, including approximately 21,000 children, who were forced to work for brick kiln owners in order to repay debts. Fatima has survived attempts on her life and repeated beatings during the course of her activism.
- Father Bernard Kinvi left his home country of Lome, Togo to Bossemptele, a small town just inside the border of the Central African Republic, to head a Catholic mission. In 2012, civil war broke out in the Central African Republic between Muslim Seleka rebels and the anti-balaka Christian militia. Amidst the violence, Father Kinvi’s mission provided refuge and health services to those on both sides of the conflict, saving hundreds of people from persecution and death.
What are the Aurora Dialogues?
The Aurora Dialogues provide a platform for the world’s leading humanitarians, academics, philanthropists and members of civil society to come together for a series of insightful discussions about some of today’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. In keeping with the spirit of the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, the Aurora Dialogues shine a light on the people who are working to address today’s atrocities in a real and substantial manner and seek to identify ideas that will deliver tangible change. The Dialogues encourage collaborative conversations to explore the importance of learning from the past, acting in the present, and fostering a better future.
100 LIVES Initiative
What is the 100 LIVES Initiative?
The 100 LIVES Initiative was launched in March 2015 to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in which the overwhelming majority of the Armenian population perished. Those who survived did so thanks to the benevolent intervention of institutions and individuals – often strangers. In recognition of their humanity and courage, 100 LIVES seeks and shares the stories of Armenian Genocide survivors, their saviors and their descendants. Each story captures the unique transformation of each victim to a valuable contributor to society.
Additional information can be found here.
Aurora Gratitude Projects
What are the Aurora Gratitude Projects?
The Aurora Gratitude Projects are humanitarian and educational initiatives which help children, refugees and other vulnerable citizens around the world. Through these projects, the descendants of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide seek to express thanks to the memory of those who helped save the victims of genocide, by providing educational initiatives and scholarships, grants to humanitarian projects and promoting public awareness of humanitarian efforts.
In cooperation with the Near East Foundation, 100 academic scholarships are given to at-risk youth from the Middle East who have been affected by conflict, displacement, and poverty. The scholarship program runs between 2015 and 2023 (in remembrance of the eight years of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1923) and will offer recipients an internationally recognized education within the United World College (UWC) network of schools, including in Armenia-based UWC Dilijan—a co-educational boarding school currently hosting students from over 82 countries. It has individual scholarships named after Lamya Haji Bashar (given to Yazidi students), Amal Clooney (given to a female student from Lebanon who demonstrates strong interest in human rights) and Charles Aznavour (awarded annually to students from France – and Francophone countries – to study at UWC Dilijan).
The scholarship program is valued at $7million.
Additional information can be found here.
How can I contact the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative?
2/2, Melik-Adamyan Street,
0010 Yerevan, Republic of Armenia
e-mail: [email protected]
For all media enquiries:
E-mail: [email protected]
Tel.: + 374 60 700 800 ext. (119)