George Clooney honours woman who saved 30,000 children in Burundi civil war


A woman who acted as a "mother to all children" during the Burundi civil war has been recognised for her actions by George Clooney with a million dollar (£700,000) humanitarian prize.

Marguerite Barankitse, who saved the lives of 30,000 children during the country's civil war, was handed the inaugural Aurora Prize by the Hollywood actor at a ceremony in Yerevan, Armenia.

She was personally awarded 100,000 US dollars (£70,000) as well as a million dollar grant to nominate to a charity or organisation that has inspired her.

Ms Barankitse, known as Maggie was heralded by Clooney as "extraordinary". He said all the finalists were people who "make the world a better place".

Clooney, who is visiting Armenia for the first time, earlier joined the president of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan in a solemn memorial service remembering the events of 1915 - when Armenians say the Ottoman Empire killed 1.5 million of its people.

Modern-day Turkey strongly disputes claims that the events were a genocide, and the figures stated.

During the prize ceremony Clooney called for the world to recognise the "Armenian genocide". Amongst the finalists for the Aurora Prize were American doctor Tom Catena, the only permanent surgeon responsible for more than half a million people in Sudan's conflicted border area with South Sudan.

Also nominated was Syeda Ghulam Fatima, a Pakistani activist who survived attempts on her life during her campaign to liberate bonded labourers, and Father Bernard Kinvi, a Togolese priest providing refuge to both sides of a civil war in the Central African Republic.