Press Release

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Announces METAdrasi, a Frontline Refugee Organization, as 2019 Recipient of $2 Million Humanitarian Prize

August 19, 2019

METAdrasi – Action for Migration and Development to receive world’s largest annual humanitarian award for its innovative approach to welcoming refugees and protecting unaccompanied children.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced today that the Greek NGO METAdrasi – Action for Migration and Development is the 2019 recipient of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. A distinguished panel of jurors selected METAdrasi, whose mission is to support the reception and integration of refugees and migrants with consistency, compassion, and the flexibility to adjust to needs as they emerge.

Silia Sehioti, member of METAdrasi's guardianship team, plays with Fatma, 10, who is living in METAdrasi's Transit Accommodation Facility for Unaccompanied Minors in Samos, Greece. The Transit Accommodation Facility was created to minimize and ideally eliminate the time spent by minors in detention centers.

UNHCR estimates that over 80,000 refugees and migrants are “trapped” in Greece, of which over 4,100 are unaccompanied children. In 2009, Lora Pappa founded METAdrasi, to fill crucial gaps in the delivery of basic humanitarian services to refugees, migrants and unaccompanied children. METAdrasi has developed a host of pioneering programs—primarily focused on interpretation, protection and education—to support the needs of unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable groups entering Greece. The organization’s first key programs included professionalizing the role of interpreters who provide vital communication for refugees and migrants throughout the asylum process; and training escort teams to provide safe passage for unaccompanied children to accommodation facilities. METAdrasi has since expanded its services to include legal support, certification of victims of torture, education, integration, and a comprehensive safety net to protect unaccompanied minors. To date, METAdrasi has conducted over 1,400,000 interpreting sessions and has supported more than 12,000 unaccompanied children.

“The jury’s selection of METAdrasi as the recipient of the 2019 Hilton Humanitarian Prize speaks to both a global humanitarian crisis and the power of local organizations to use their personal experiences and knowledge to develop innovative solutions to complex problems,” said Conrad N. Hilton Foundation President and CEO, Peter Laugharn. “METAdrasi is a remarkable example of a nimble organization that leads the charge in areas where essential services are lacking. Their belief that migrants and refugees are a valuable part of our shared future and our shared humanity, embodies the spirit of the Prize and the work of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.”

As the reception of refugees remains one of the greatest issues facing the world, METAdrasi is rooted in the belief that refugees and migrants should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, empowered to exercise their rights to services, and provided protection when seeking asylum. METAdrasi will receive $2 million in unrestricted funding, joining the list of 23 previous organizations that have received the Hilton Humanitarian Prize including, most recently, SHOFCO, icddr,b, the Task Force for Global Health and Landesa.

“We are so grateful to receive the 2019 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize at a time when urgent needs regarding the refugee situation continue to emerge,” said Lora Pappa, founder, president and CEO of METAdrasi. “This Prize reaffirms the spirit of solidarity which is shared by so many citizens in Europe, in the United States and beyond. It means that the international community is paying attention to the magnitude and the gravity of the complex humanitarian challenges that emerge from the management of mixed refugee flows. It recognizes the work of the grassroots, everyday efforts which are being taken to tackle those issues with innovation and practicality.”

METAdrasi will be honored at this year’s Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Symposium and Prize Ceremony, which will take place at The Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The theme of this year’s symposium is “The Future of Humanitarian Action: Seeking Higher Ground.” The daylong conference will bring together thought leaders and humanitarians from around the globe to explore the issues and opportunities that must be addressed to meet the most pressing humanitarian crises of today and tomorrow. Featured speakers include: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of “Americana,” “Half of a Yellow Sun,” and “Purple Hibiscus;” Christiana Figueres, founding partner, Global Optimism and former executive secretary of the UN Climate Convention (2010-2016); Sister Joan Chittister, American Benedictine nun, theologian and author of “The Time Is Now;” Patrisse Cullors, co-founder, Black Lives Matter Global Network; and Tyler Hicks, Pulitzer Prize-winning staff photographer at The New York Times, among others.

Each year, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation reviews nominations from notable nonprofits throughout the world, and an independent, international panel of distinguished jurors makes the final selection after a rigorous vetting process. The following individuals served on the 2019 Hilton Humanitarian Prize jury: Sir Fazle Hasan Abed; Gro Brundtland, M.D., M.P.H.; Leymah Gbowee; Hawley Hilton McAuliffe; Mark Rosenberg, M.D., M.P.P.; Zainab Salbi; Ann M. Veneman. Nominations for the 2020 Hilton Humanitarian Prize will be accepted until Oct. 1, 2019, and should be submitted through the Hilton Foundation website.

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