The 2019 Aurora Prize has been awarded to Yazidi activist Mirza Dinnayi, director and co-founder of Luftbrücke Irak (Air Bridge Iraq). The fourth annual accolade recognizes individuals who have shown outstanding dedication to humanitarian causes.
The prize came with a $1,000,000 grant, which Dinnayi has elected to donate. The funds will be distributed to three organizations that have inspired Dinnayi’s work: Air Bridge Iraq, the SEED Foundation, and the Shai Fund—all of which are dedicated to providing medical care and rehabilitation services to victims of ISIS.
“What makes Mirza Dinnayi an outstanding human being is the fact he couldn’t live in good conscience knowing that good people are left behind, that the innocent are suffering,” said 2017 Aurora Prize Laureate Tom Catena, who is also the chair of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative. “Trying to help others while facing an unspeakable evil can be challenging and frustrating, but he never wavered. I am delighted to congratulate Mirza Dinnayi with being awarded with the prize and welcome him to the Aurora family.”
Dinnayi is estimated to have saved hundreds of women and children during the Iraq war, an achievement that has not gone unnoticed by others in the humanitarian community.
“The very name of the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity contains the most important message of this unique award,” said Nobel Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee, who is also a member of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee. “Right now, the world feels the need for humanity to rise and for people to step up. Mirza Dinnayi, whose courage and selflessness are a credit to his people, is doing just that: taking care of women and children, who suffer the most in a conflict situation, and putting himself at risk to save others. What an outstanding humanitarian.”
The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative also gave grants of $50,000 each to two other notable humanitarians: Yemeni activist and attorney Huda Al-Sarari and Zannah Bukar Mustapha, founder and director of Future Prowess Islamic Foundation (a school in Nigeria).
*Photo courtesy of Landesregierung Baden-Württemberg via Flickr CC.