The idea of writing this article came to me spontaneously during a talk with a Norwegian tour leader whom I was guiding in Yerevan. As I always do with Norwegians, I started speaking about the Nobel Laureate and Norwegian arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen. This way I tried to express my gratitude to this great humanitarian who saved 320,000 Armenians by granting them special “Nansen” passports issued by the League of Nations that enabled the stateless refugees of the Armenian Genocide to move without obstacles & settle in their countries.
I have read somewhere that this document was a foundation of modern-day refugee care. Moreover, Nansen visited Armenia in 1925 to conduct a research on creating an irrigation project that would irrigate and cultivate the Sardarapad dessert, allowing 50,000 refugees to resettle there. But unfortunately, the project was not funded.
As you can see, Nansen has such a big importance for us that we can’t miss his statue in Yerevan. The fact that, with growing numbers of refugees, the world needs such dedicated humanitarians more than ever, makes this place very special. I walk with each Norwegian I meet to the statue of Nansen, who I am sure saved the grandparents of many people dear to me. The statue was inaugurated in 2011 and the granddaughter of Nansen, Marit Greve, now 90, was present in the official ceremony.
I hope that in the near future the world will not need such philanthropists, but as long as we need them desperately, we should remember and honor them.