The Facts

  • Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel was awarded the Nansen Prize by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Tuesday. She was recognized for accepting more than 1M mostly Syrian refugees and asylum seekers into Germany during her time in office.

  • The UNHCR selection committee highlighted Merkel's "leadership, courage, and compassion." UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said Merkel upheld human rights and humanitarian principles during the height of the 2015-2016 migrant crisis.

The Spin

Narrative A

While Merkel is now celebrated for her supposed humanism, the reality of the situation was much different. Merkel only expected a total of several hundred thousand refugees at the end of 2015 and had hoped for burden sharing amongst European countries. She was wrong on both accounts, and through her naïve open-door policy, she ensured the rise of nationalism across Europe.

Narrative B

By awarding this prestigious prize to Angela Merkel, the UNHCR has sent a very important signal. Perhaps it will also succeed in drawing the international community's attention to the fact that, according to the agency, for the first time more than 100M people worldwide have been forcibly displaced due to various conflicts. These migrants urgently need help now, and Merkel's humanitarianism is an inspiration for today.

Establishment-critical narrative

With all the Western talk of "values" and the need to protect refugees, Western media often neglects to mention the underlying causes of the migration in question and those contributing to the crisis. For example, the US "wars on terror" have caused tens of millions of people in the Middle East to flee over the past twenty years. These upheavals are not isolated incidents but rather part of larger geopolitical posturing whose repercussions often get swept under the rug.

Public figures in this story

Articles on this story

Sign up to our daily newsletter