STOCKHOLM – Congolese children's rights activist Murhabazi Namegabe on Tuesday was named winner of the $100,000 World Children's Prize for his efforts to protect children exploited by armed groups in the African country.
The award foundation based in Mariefred, Sweden, cited Murhabazi's "dangerous struggle to free children forced to be child soldiers or sex slaves" in Congo.
The foundation said that since 1989, Murhabazi and his organization BVES have freed 4,000 child soldiers and more than 4,500 girls who had been sexually assaulted by armed groups.
"His 35 homes and schools offer some of the world's most vulnerable children food, clothes, a home, health care, therapy, the opportunity to go to school, security and love," the foundation said. "Most of the children are reunited with their families."
It said Murhabazi has received many death threats because of his activities and seven of his colleagues have been killed.
The foundation said the winner was decided in a vote among 3.2 million children worldwide. An honorary award was shared by children's rights activists Cecilia Flores-Oebanda of the Philippines, and Monira Rahman of Bangladesh.
The award ceremony will be held on Thursday in Mariefred and will be attended by Sweden's Queen Silvia.
Since 1999, the annual World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child has honored outstanding contributions in defending the rights of children and youth.
(This version corrects foundation based in Mariefred, not Stockholm.)