Bookmakers taking bets for this year's Nobel Peace Prize are giving the lowest odds to the Greek islanders who have opened their hearts and homes to hundreds of thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
The award will be announced Friday in Oslo, Norway, and as usual the Norwegian Nobel Committee isn't dropping any hints about its choice for 2016.
The betting site Unibet gave the lowest odds Thursday to Greek islanders while another betting site, Paddy Power, had the White Helmets rescue group in Syria in first place, followed by the islanders.
Others with low odds included Pope Francis, the architects of Colombia's peace deal and Congolese surgeon Denis Mukwege, who treats victims of sexual violence in that nation's civil war.
Last year the committee surprised the world by picking the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet.
Most controversial Nobel Peace Prize nominees
Most controversial Nobel Peace Prize nominees
1/5 Edward Snowden
2014: The National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has been nominated by two Norwegian MPs for the Nobel Peace Prize, meaning the US contractor currently claiming asylum in Russia could be awarded the same prize accepted by President Barak Obama in 2009
2/5 Vladimir Putin
2013: The Russian President Vladimir Putin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize because the former KGB agent “actively promotes settlement of all conflicts arising on the planet,” according to the advocacy group that nominated him, at least
3/5 Barack Obama
2009: US President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” shortly before launching military airstrikes in Libya. The irony was not lost on Mr Obama it seemed, who during a press conference joked: "[Energy Secretary Steven] Chu's the right guy to do this, he's got a Nobel Prize in physics - he actually deserved his Nobel Prize"
4/5 Henry Kissinger
1973: Henry Kissinger was awarded the prize for his work on the Paris Peace Accords jointly with Le Duc Tho, who turned the Prize down. The American humourist Tom Lehrer later quipped that Kissinger’s award represented the “death of satire”
5/5 Josef Stalin
1945: Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was nominated for “his efforts to end World War II”. Fellow nominee Vladimir Putin recently said there was no difference between him and Oliver Cromwell, when asked whether he would erect a statue of Stalin in Moscow
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC rebel commander Timochenko were considered hot favorites by many until Sunday, when Colombian voters narrowly rejected their peace deal in a referendum. A Colombia award now seems like a less likely, though it can't be ruled out.
Another possibility could be a prize linked to last year's Paris Agreement on climate change, which on Wednesday was ratified by enough countries to enter into force next month. The committee has made the link between climate and peace before, by giving the 2007 award to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and former U.S. vice president Al Gore.
A challenge for a prize honoring the Paris Agreement would be identifying the architects of a deal negotiated by more than 190 countries. The committee could play it safe by awarding outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who made climate change a priority as soon as he took the job, or the U.N. secretariat for climate change.
The committee could also devote the prize to the deal on Iran's contested nuclear program or the world's refugee crisis. Options would be many: German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her handling of the refugee crisis or grassroots refugee activists like Russia's Svetlana Gannushkina or the Rev. Mussie Zerai, a Catholic priest helping asylum-seekers in Italy.
A campaign for the Greek islanders to receive the award focuses on Lesbos locals Emilia (Militsa) Kamvisi, an 85-year-old grandmother and second-generation refugee whose parents fled Turkey in the 1920s, and fisherman Stratis Valiamos, 40, who like many fishermen has rescued refugees from sinking boats.
The committee has dedicated the prize to efforts to help refugees several times before, including with two awards to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, in 1954 and 1981.
A refugee prize could also be a way for the committee to reference the Syrian civil war, now in its sixth year. Some say a better way to do that would be to award the volunteer first responders in Syria known as the White Helmets.
Last month the group was honored among the winners of the Right Livelihood Award, a human rights prize sometimes referred to as the “alternative Nobel.”
It's also a distinct possibility that the committee, like so many times before, selects a winner who isn't in the limelight. Except for Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani children's rights activist who shared the prize in 2014, the Nobel committee's choices in the past five years have surprised most observers.
This year's winner will be announced Friday at the Norwegian Nobel Institute at 11 a.m. (0900 GMT).
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