Google on Tuesday celebrated Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen’s 156th birth anniversary with a Google Doodle that shows him skiing through the North Pole.
Nansen won international acclaim after he created a record by reaching the northern latitude of 86°14′ during his North Pole expedition between 1893–’96. But Nansen is known more for helping millions of refugees return home.
After World War I, as Europe struggled to rebuild, Nansen led the League of Nations’ first major humanitarian operation – the repatriation of 4,50,000 prisoners of war, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said. He also served as the League’s first High Commissioner for Refugees from 1920-1930.
He came up with the “Nansen passports” that enabled thousands of refugees return home. In 1921, he created the “Nansen Passports” for stateless refugees under his care. The Nansen Passports were documents of identification that were recognised by more than 50 governments.
The Red Cross also asked him to direct relief for millions of Russians dying in the 1921-1922 famine. In 1922, Nansen was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in “helping those without a voice and searching for a home”. The same year, after the war between Greece and Turkey, Nansen facilitated the exchange of about 12,50,000 Greeks living on Turkish soil for 5,00,000 Turks living in Greece.
Nansen was making plans to fly a plane across the Arctic when he died in 1930, at the age 69. The UNHCR established the Nansen Refugee Award in his honour in 1954. It is given to a person or group for outstanding service in the cause of refugees.