The AidEx Humanitarian Hero of the Year Award aims to recognise and celebrate stand-out individuals from the humanitarian and development aid community and showcases the courageous work and dedication that they put into their line of work.

Do you know a Humanitarian Hero?
Nominations are open to individuals from all parts of the sector, including those who work for suppliers, NGOs, governmental and the development aid community and the winner is awarded during the AidEx networking drinks reception.



heroes 2017

Scott Anderson, UNRWA 

Scott Anderson has been working in humanitarian aid since 2008. He has spent the majority of this time with UNRWA, first in Gaza as the head of administration and security, then as the Deputy Director for UNRWA Operations in Gaza and now as the Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank. He deserves to win this award for three reasons:  (1) he has repeatedly and consistently displayed an exceedingly rare balance of: deep empathy and commitment to humanitarian needs of a population suffering from a 70-year crisis; a deftness in comprehending and managing the delicate political and security environment in which aid must be delivered in Palestine; an ability to remain neutral in aid delivery but also a symbol and public advocate about humanitarian suffering of Palestine refugees, and an ability to lead and take tough decisions; (2) he has repeatedly risked his life in service of Palestine refugees, having been commended by the UN Secretary General in 2009 for moving burning white phosphorus out from an urban area of Gaza, saving the neighbourhood, and having led the UNRWA emergency response during the 2014 hostilities in Gaza; (3) he is as humble and quiet in his leadership as he is skilled - a trait that has led nearly 2 million Palestine refugees (and donors) in oPt to trust and support him fully. 


WINNER: Michael Kühnel, Austrian Red Cross 

Dr. Michael Kühnel is a worldwide advocate for the protection of human life and an outstanding health delegate of the Austrian Red Cross. The career of Dr. Michael Kühnel in the humanitarian field is long and impressive. His variegated knowledge of different medical aspects and experience while working with patients in different surroundings, combined with great social skills and his empathy for others, has enriched Austrian humanitarian work. For 18 years he has worked as a volunteer for the Austrian Red Cross and has gone on missions all over the world including Indonesia in 2005 following the Tsunami and as a health delegate to Haiti in 2011 after it was struck by a tremendous earthquake. In 2014 Dr. Kühnel was the only Austrian citizen working in Sierra Leone after a deadly Ebola outbreak. In 2016 he was selected as a health delegate for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on the rescue boat Responder in the Mediterranean, run by the help-organisation Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), to treat refugees in distress at sea. Four kilometres off the Lybian coast, his crew rescued hundreds of refugees out of the water. Dr. Kühnel quite literally wears his dedication on his arm, with a tattoo featuring the seven fundamental principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society. He is down to earth and modest, enjoying acting, dancing and playing basketball in his spare time but forever practicing humanitarianism wherever he goes and whatever he does.


Jane Kaye-Bailey, The Butterfly Tree 

Since founding The Butterfly Tree, Jane Kaye-Bailey has selflessly dedicated 11 years to Zambians with her work to help orphans and rural communities. Her commitment has helped and saved thousands of lives with awe-inspiring lasting impact. From its conception, the charity's philosophy has ensured that all donor funds go directly into grassroots projects and no personal fees or administration costs are deducted. To highlight Jane's impact, some 10,000 people now have access to safe water through 21 new boreholes and better sanitation. She has developed wide-reaching sustainable feeding programmes in a country that ranks third hungriest globally, and one of the poorest countries in Africa. Her support feeds over 2000 orphans and vulnerable children daily and provides seeds and fertiliser for vulnerable families. Jane has enabled sponsorship of several hundred orphaned and vulnerable children from pre-school to grade 12, and helped students to attend college and achieve their aspirations, many of whom return to the villages to help their communities and inspire local youth. Additionally, her charity has provided vast amounts of materials in the 35 schools she helps and added special education units in four of them. 82 houses for widows and the elderly have been constructed, maternity care and medical supplies have been provided to numerous health centres and 12 clinics are supported. For 9 years her charity has funded a successful malaria prevention programme in Zambia, providing over 12,000 mosquito nets, malaria testing kits and educational workshops. Jane has commendable ability to empower communities she works in to be sustainable.


Shane Middleton, Global Communities 

Shane Middleton, has been working as a humanitarian since 2005, and since 2009 with Global Communities. With Global Communities, he has been on the ground in both the Gaza Strip and Syria, helping lead the organisation's response to some of the world's largest and most complex humanitarian crises. Shane began working in Syria in 2014, with only two other staff to assist in cross-border work based in Turkey. Under Shane's leadership, over three years the size of Global Communities' programme expanded exponentially, with approximately 500 staff located throughout Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Jordan, all working to help reach the most vulnerable. The scope of the work has grown to encompass increased efforts to support agriculture, strengthening disaster risk reduction, improving camp infrastructure, and providing protection for women and children. Prior to Syria, Shane joined Global Communities' Gaza operations in 2009 until 2013, coordinating with USAID, the World Food Programme, and other humanitarian organizations to distribute food packages to 2,000 families in UN Relief and Works Agency shelters. Approximately 15,000 individuals from the worst- affected and most vulnerable households across Gaza received relief through these supplies. Shane was among the longest serving expatriates to serve continuously in Gaza, showcasing his dedication to both his staff and the humanitarian mission. Global Communities' work continues in Gaza today, based on the systems Shane set in place. Without Shane's leadership, the humanitarian community would not have been had the substantial impact it has.


Previous winners of the Humanitarian Hero Award...

2016 - Dr. Cynthia Maung, Doctor and Founder of the Mae Tao Clinic
2015 - Sean Casey, Regional Director of International Medical Corps
2014 – Christian and Marie-France des Pallières, Founders of Pour un sourire d’enfant
2013 – Dr Jumana Odeh, Founder of Palestinian Happy Child Centre
2012 – Dr Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of the Kenyan Red Cross
2011 – Janina Ochojska, Founder of Polish Humanitarian Action