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Iranian economist and Afghan dentist crowned Refugees of the Year

Economist Bahar Mozaffari and dentist Ramin Akhi want to encourage immigrants to lead an independent life and seek higher education.

Vuoden pakolaisnainen Bahar Mozaffari (vas.) Espoosta ja vuoden pakolaismies Ramin Akhi Oulusta.
Refugee Woman of the Year Bahar Mozaffari (left) and Refugee Man of the Year Ramin Akhi. Image: Irene Stachon / Lehtikuva

The Finnish Refugee Council has named Bahar Mozaffari from Espoo Refugee Woman of the Year and Ramin Akhi from Oulu Refugee Man of the Year.

Mozaffari and Akhi were awarded in recognition for being active citizens. The board of the Finnish Refugee Council stated both were excellent role models and examples of how immigrants who have arrived in Finland as adults can quickly transition back into working life and support others with integration.

More independence for immigrant women

“I want to encourage immigrant women to lead independent lives, find their place in Finnish society and get a grasp of working life,” says Bahar Mozaffari, 39.

Mozaffari arrived in Finland as a quota refugee in 2006. In her native Iran, economist Mozaffari faced political persecution because of her role in a women’s organization. She now works as an immigration specialist at the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in Uusimaa, and has worked with women and children as a volunteer.

"Being a refugee is not a handicap."

Refugee Man of the Year Ramin Akhi, 30, says he wants to support young people with refugee backgrounds to seek higher education in order to achieve their full potential.

Akhi is a dentist and PhD student in dentistry at the University of Oulu. He has participated actively in student politics and the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations in Northern Finland. Afghanistan-born Akhi’s family fled to Cuba before ending up in Finland as a quota refugee in 2005.

“Being a refugee is not a handicap, as Finland offers everyone an education. Government officials and teachers should help young people reach for their dreams,” Akhi says. 

The Finnish Refugee Council is a 50-year-old umbrella organisation made up of NGOs representing labour unions, political parties, women's, educational and mental health groups. It says the awards are aimed at raising awareness in Finnish society about refugees who have successfully integrated.

Previous recipients of the prize include local city council members Zahra Abdulla of the Left Alliance and Fatbardhe Hetemaj of the National Coalition Party, and member of parliament Nasima Razmyar of the Social Democratic Party.

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