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Extraordinary migrant women are recognised by Women on the Move Awards

The Women on the Move Awards 2015 are organised jointly by the Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum and the UNHCR.  They were set up in 2012 to celebrate the contribution of migrant and refugee women to the UK.


The 2015 Women on the Move Awards will this year be presented by singer Annie Lennox.  The Woman of the Year award will be given to Sonia Khoury, a qualified medical doctor who arrived in the UK in October 2011 to do her PhD in Health Sciences.  Whilst here, war broke out in Syria, which forced her to claim asylum because of the increasing violence.  Now living in Wales, Sonia supports migrant women, particularly those fleeing domestic abuse, to establish a new life for themselves in the UK.  She is a tireless advocate on the Syrian refugee situation, and has spoken in Parliament about the need to resettle more women and children to the UK.


The Young Woman of the Year Award, presented by Livia Firth, goes to Chrisann Jarrett, a 20-year-old student who founded Let Us Learn, an organisation campaigning for the rights of irregular and undocumented young people excluded from higher education by their immigration status.  A former head girl with top grades at A level, it was only when Chrisann applied to university that she discovered that having been born in Jamaica, she was unable to get a student loan.  Instead of giving up her dreams of becoming a lawyer, she fought to bring attention to the situation of many migrant children in a similar situation and won a full scholarship from LSE.


A Special Jury Award goes to Asma Mohamed Ali.  Asma was born on the Brava Coast in Somalia and came to the UK in 1992 having spent much of her childhood in Kenyan refugee camps.  Now working in Barnet at the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association, Asma has built a thriving centre and education programme that supports 200 students and their families.  In 2013 her Bravanese community hall was burnt down in a racist arson attack.  But within a week, despite being six months pregnant, Asma had forged ties between the local Jewish and Muslim communities to keep the student programme going, and led community action to raise £1.1 million to rebuild the hall.


The Awards also recognise foster carer for unaccompanied minors, Pauline Hawkes, as Champion of the Year.  After contacting Haringey social services she received her first unaccompanied asylum-seeking child – a Congolese girl who had been raped and lost both her parents.  Since that time Pauline has dedicated her life to supporting asylum-seeking young people and victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation and founded her own foster care agency – the Phoenix Centre – to do so.


Find out more about the Women on the Move Awards and watch films about the prize-winners.