Refugee advocate is ‘Swede of the Year’

Refugee advocate is 'Swede of the Year'
Anita Dorazio, a 72-year-old advocate who pioneered health clinics for refugees in hiding, has been named Swede of the Year for 2008 by the weekly news magazine Fokus.

Dorazio, who resides in the upscale Stockholm suburb of Lidingö, opened her first underground clinic in the back of neighbourhood café and book store in 1995 with the help of infectious diseases specialist Anders Björkman.

At the time, providing health care to refugees in hiding was a little known issue and Dorazio depended on volunteer healthcare workers, many of whom had experience working in makeshift clinics in developing countries, according to Fokus.

At Dorazio’s urging, a second clinic opened in Gothenburg in 1998. In the last decade, a number of similar clinics have been launched around the country, all drawing inspiration from Dorazio’s original café clinic on Lidingö.

In honouring Dorazio, Fokus cited her “tireless, engaged, and goal oriented work for the rights of refugees” saying that her efforts have “contributed to a tolerable existence for many vulnerable refugees”.

“Her efforts have also put Swedish refugee policy in focus as well as the continued fight for people’s equal value in Sweden,” wrote Fokus.

Dorazio now represents the Swedish Network of Asylum and Refugee Support Groups (FARR) as she continues her nearly 40 year career supporting refugee rights.

In 1999, she, along Hédi Fried, was awarded the Eldh-Ekblad peace prize, an annual award given by the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (Svenska Freds).