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.
“In times of war and catastrophe, some people lose their moral bearings. But others find inside themselves a compass that steers a true course through fear and chaos,” Clinton said. “Larry Hollingworth is one of those people.
“Those who serve in war zones discover the hard realities of trying to deliver aid, extricate refugees, negotiate ceasefires and protect civilians, she continued. “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). The other honorees included:
• Harriet Tubman for helping more than 70 slaves escape to freedom using the Underground Railroad;
• Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, for assisting people persecuted by the Nazis during World War II;
• the U.S.S. St. Louis, a ship that transported many Jewish survivors of the Holocaust to Palestine;
• Josephine Dusabimana and Mbaye Diagne for saving Tutsi Rwandans from genocide; and
• Mina Jahic for assisting Bosnian War refugees.
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 the two heroes of mine—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.
“I thank all those who worked with me,” he added. “I must further say that all at the State Department were so gracious and generous. It was an outstanding day for me.”
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.”
As a sign of appreciation, the State Department dedicated a room at its headquarters to the honorees. The ceremony occurred on the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Related to the Status of Refugees. This international document defines the rights of refugees and the legal obligation of states to protect them.