Edhi wins Unesco prize

October 24, 2009

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ISLAMABAD, Oct 23 Pakistan's renowned social worker Abdul Sattar Edhi and Franois Houtart of Belgium, who is known for promoting inter-faith dialogue, have been awarded the '2009 Unesco-Madanjeet Singh Prize'.

Their selection by an international jury has been announced by Unesco. They will receive the award on the International Day for Tolerance at the Unesco headquarters in Paris on Nov 16.

Dedicated to advancing the spirit of tolerance in arts, education, culture, science and communication, the prize is given every two years to individuals or institutions for contributions in promoting tolerance and non-violence.

The International Jury of the Unesco-Madanjeet Singh Prize comprised Ioanna Kucuradi of Turkey, Maurice Glele Ahanhanzo of Benin, Kamal Hossain of Bangladesh, Masateru Nakagawa of Japan and Mokhtar Taleb-Bendiab of Algeria.

The award was instituted in 1995 on the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, with the support of writer and diplomat Madanjeet Singh, who is also Unesco's Goodwill Ambassador.

The prize for Abdul Sattar Edhi is in recognition of his life-long efforts to ameliorate the conditions of the most disadvantaged groups in Pakistan and South Asia and to promote the ideals of human dignity, human rights, mutual respect and tolerance. He carries out humanitarian work through his Edhi Foundation which he set up in 1957.

A non-profit social welfare programme with over 300 centres across Pakistan, the foundation runs maternity homes, asylums, homes for the physically handicapped, blood banks and orphanages. Its branches in other countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Ethiopia, provide relief to refugees and other victims of strife and natural disasters.