A visiting professor of humanitarian studies at Fordham was lauded by the State Department on April 6 for helping refugees in the former Yugoslavia.
Larry Hollingworth was among seven honorees cited by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for playing leading roles in refugee crises around the world.
Hollingworth headed the Sarajevo office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees in 1994. In that role, he negotiated humanitarian access to towns besieged by fighting, Clinton said.
He led convoys of food trucks through combat lines, evacuated hundreds of women and children, and warned the world about the dangers of Srebrenica months before 8,000 Bosnian men and boys were massacred there in July 1995.
“Those who serve in war zones discover the hard realities of trying to deliver aid, extricate refugees, negotiate ceasefires and protect civilians,” Clinton said. “Larry brought courage, political acumen and moral clarity to a seemingly impossible situation.”
Hollingworth works with the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) at Fordham and is the humanitarian programs director for the Center for International Health and Cooperation (CIHC).
He said he draws inspiration from two of the event’s other honorees—Harriet Tubman, who helped more than 70 slaves escape to freedom using the Underground Railroad; and Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, for assisting people persecuted by the Nazis during World War II.
Hollingworth said if he had to pick one word to describe how he felt at the ceremony, it would be overwhelmed.
“I refused to believe it until it actually took place,” he said. “I hope that Mr. Wallenberg and Ms. Tubman do not object from wherever they look down upon us. But they know that I got it as the leader of a team effort.”
Kevin Cahill, M.D., director of IIHA, called the award a well-deserved recognition of an incredible life devoted to relief work in crises all over the world.
“Larry came to work with me 14 years ago; he’s just a wonderful human being,” Cahill said. “If you got caught in a bad place, you wanted someone like Larry—who was a very committed army officer—to get you out of that place.
“He’s a wonderful, warm teacher,” Cahill continued. “We at the CIHC/IIHA know so well that he has trained a new generation of humanitarian workers—more than 1,500 graduates from 133 nations so far. They are his finest legacy.”