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Arab American Institute Foundation Announces Three Honorees for the 11th Annual Kahlil Gibran "Spirit of Humanity" Awards Gala

posted on: Feb 13, 2009

The Arab American Institute (AAI) and Arab American Institute Foundation (AAIF) will honor the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the Marshall Legacy Institute and Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni at the 11th annual Kahlil Gibran “Spirit of Humanity” Awards gala on Thursday, April 23 in Washington.

UNRWA will be the recipient of the Award for International Commitment. For sixty years, the organization has provided education, healthcare, social services and emergency aid to over 4.6 million refugees living in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. By far the largest UN operation in the Middle East, UNRWA employs over 29,000 staff, almost all of them refugees themselves, working directly to benefit their communities – as teachers, doctors, nurses or social workers.

During the recent conflict in Gaza, UNRWA’s humanitarian mission was tested at all levels, and was the principal source of relief and recovery for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians affected by the hostilities. UNRWA staff has worked tirelessly, often at grave personal risk, during the attacks and since the ceasefire to restore education and primary health care, provide emergency food aid, cash assistance and job creation programs, repair civilian homes and UNRWA facilities, and offer psycho-social support to the most traumatized Gazans, including to children in UNRWA schools.

The Marshall Legacy Institute will be this year’s recipient of the Award for Institutional Achievement. Founded in 1997, the Marshall Legacy Institute seeks to build local capacity in post-conflict societies to restore hope, alleviate suffering and nurture stability. Their current focus is on helping severely contaminated countries by providing resources and training to reduce the scourge of landmines.

Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni will be honored with the Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service. Dr. Zerhouni is a physician, scientist and world-renowned leader in radiology research who served as director of the National Institutes of Health from 2002 until 2008. He led NIH through a challenging period that required innovative solutions to transform basic and clinical research into tangible benefits for patients and their families. He was a consultant to the White House under President Ronald Reagan and in 1998 to the World Health Organization.

Launched in 1999 by AAI and AAIF, the Kahlil Gibran “Spirit of Humanity” Awards gala focuses attention on acts of leadership that promote the common good and features prominent leaders from the diplomatic, business, philanthropic, and government sectors. For more information about the Kahlil Gibran “Spirit of Humanity”