The Latest: UN refugee agency chief lauds Ethiopia efforts


OSLO, Norway (AP) – The Latest on the Nobel Prizes (all times local):

1:55 p.m.

The head of the United Nations’ refugee agency says awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is “a huge testament to his efforts to bring peace to his country and beyond.”

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi says Ethiopia “is not only upholding its international refugee law obligations but is a model for other refugee-hosting nations around the world.”

He says Ethiopia has more than 700,000 registered refugees, one of the highest numbers in Africa.

Grandi noted that Ethiopia is pushing through measures that allow refugees to get better integrated in society. These include allowing refugees to obtain work permits, access primary education, obtain drivers’ licenses and legally register life events such as births and marriages.


1:15 p.m.

Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, says he is “humbled and thrilled” by the award.

In audio of a call between the Nobel Committee and the Ethiopian leader, Abiy calls the award “a prize given to Africa, given to Ethiopia.”

He also lays out his hope that the award will be taken “positively” by other African leaders “to work on peacebuilding process on our continent.”

He was cited by the committee for making peace with neighboring Eritrea and ending one of Africa’s long-running conflicts.

His other diplomatic efforts in the long-turbulent region, including in Sudan and between rivals such as Somalia and Kenya, have been widely praised.


1:10 p.m.

The head of Norway’s government says Ethiopia’s reformist prime minister, who has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, has shown “great courage” in signing a peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea last year that ended one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg says Abiy Ahmed has “created hope in a region of Africa which for too long had been characterized by violence, conflict and poverty, although much remains to be done.”

Solberg says Abiy has “contributed to a more peaceful relationship between the countries of the Horn of Africa.”

Solberg who spoke Friday, said he deserved the prize. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Institute, which is independent of Norway’s government.


12:55 p.m.

In the midst of an ongoing dispute between the two Nile Basin countries over water shares, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi has congratulated Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on his Nobel Peace Prize.

“It is a new victory for our black continent which always aspires for peace and pursues stability and development,” el-Sissi wrote on his official Facebook page shortly after the prize was announced Friday.

“I hope that our constructive efforts aiming at ending all conflicts and differences in Africa will continue thanks to the will of our great sons and people.”


12:45 p.m.

Many Ethiopians are expressing joy with the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to their reformist prime minister and some are changing their social media profile pictures to that of Abiy Ahmed.

Even some who have pushed Abiy to do more are praising him.

Prominent activist Jawar Mohammed says the award is “well-deserved recognition for ending the senseless stalemate with Eritrea” and ending one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts.

But he adds that much work remains to ensure Ethiopia’s “peaceful and successful transition to democracy,” saying Abiy’s regional accomplishments depend on his own country’s internal peace.


12:30 p.m.

Leaders across Africa are responding with praise and encouragement after Ethiopia’s reformist prime minister was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Liberian President George Weah calls it a “noble feat.” Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo calls the award “a reminder to us all that peace is one of the most critical ingredients needed to make Africa successful.”

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed calls Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed “a deserving winner.”

Somalia is just one of the countries in the long-turbulent Horn of Africa region that Abiy has targeted with diplomatic efforts since taking office in April 2018.

The Nobel committee cited Abiy for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea.


12:25 p.m.

Olav Njoelstad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, says he has now spoken with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the 2019 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The institute had tried to reach him before the announcement but in vain,

Njoelstad says he managed to call Abiy who “expressed great humility and was overwhelmed and very happy.”

Njoelstad said Friday Abiy “was emotionally affected” and said he hoped it could help strengthen peace in the region.

Abiy is expected to be in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896, to receive the 9-million kronor ($918,000) cash award, a gold medal and a diploma. Even though the peace prize is awarded in Norway, the amount is denominated in Swedish kronor.


11:55 a.m.

The United Nations secretary-general says he has often said that “winds of hope are blowing ever stronger across Africa” and Ethiopia’s prime minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner is one of the main reasons why.

Antonio Guterres in a statement says he was honored to witness the signing of the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea last year that ended one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts.

The Norwegian Nobel Institute on Friday cited that peace deal and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s sweeping political reforms as reasons for the award.

The U.N. chief also says that the peace agreement opened up new opportunities for the long-turbulent Horn of Africa region to enjoy security and stability.


11:50 a.m.

NATO’s secretary-general says Abiy Ahmed, the 2019 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has “demonstrated that with patience, courage and conviction, peace is possible. “

On Twitter, Jens Stoltenberg congratulated Abiy for the award that was announced Friday in Oslo.

Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said that Abiy “must now make resolving ethnic tensions within Ethiopia a priority and work tirelessly to bring peace to his people.”

In a statement, Egeland described Abiy as “Africa’s youngest leader” who made peace with Eritrea after almost 20 years of hostilities. “He released political prisoners and journalists, unbanned opposition groups and appointed women to his cabinet, all within a year of being in office.”


11:40 a.m.

Human rights and humanitarian groups are urging new Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed to uphold and build on the dramatic reforms that led to his award.

Amnesty International secretary Kumi Naidoo says in a statement that “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s work is far from done. This award should push and motivate him to tackle the outstanding human rights challenges that threaten to reverse the gains made so far. He must urgently ensure that his government addresses the ongoing ethnic tensions that threaten instability and further human rights abuses.”

The secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland, says he was “astounded” by Ethiopia’s recent achievements but added that he was “equally struck by meeting many of the millions of displaced Ethiopians as a result of ethnic violence” that has followed the lifting of repressive measures.


11:25 a.m.

The office of Ethiopia’s prime minister is celebrating his Nobel Peace Prize win and calling on “all Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia to continue standing on the side of peace.”

The tweet sharing the statement adds jubilantly: “We are proud as a nation!!!”

Abiy Ahmed won after announcing sweeping political reforms that included making peace with longtime rival Eritrea and ending one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts. The 43-year-old also shocked observers by releasing tens of thousands of prisoners and welcoming home once-banned opposition groups.

Ethiopia’s statement adds that “this recognition is a timeless testimony to the ‘medemer’ ideals of unity, cooperation and mutual coexistence that the prime minister has been consistently championing,” using a local term for “unity.”


11 a.m.

The 2019 Nobel Peace has been awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Abiy was cited for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chairwoman of the five-member Norwegian Nobel Institute that awards the Nobel Peace Prize said Abiy was named for his moves to end his country’s conflict with next door Eritrea within months of coming to office in 2018. He signed a “Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship,” with Eritrean Prime Minister Isaias Afwerki.

Within the Nobel Peace Prize there is a long history of prizes going to statesmen associated with ending conflicts, most recently Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos who was awarded the prize in 2016 for helping to bring his country’s 50 year civil war to an end.


9 a.m.

The prestigious Nobel Peace Prize will be handed out Friday with plenty of speculation about possible winners but no hints from the Nobel committee, which doesn’t reveal the names of candidates or nominations for 50 years.

Names flying around include 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg; Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia; German Chancellor Angela Merkel; and activists in Hong Kong.

The Norwegian Nobel Institute could also choose to acknowledge United Nations’ World Food Program, or the joint leadership of two prime ministers – Greece’s Alexis Tsipras and North Macedonia’s Zoran Zaev – who brought an end to 30 years of acrimony between their nations.

While the other prizes are announced in Stockholm, the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

FILE – In this Saturday, June 23, 2018 file photo, Ethiopians rally in solidarity with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in Meskel Square in the capital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The 2019 Nobel Peace has been awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Ahmed was cited for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, File)