British sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor has given $1 million in prize money away to charities working to alleviate the refugee crisis, including that run by former UK foreign secretary David Miliband.

Kapoor, an Indian-born Jewish artist, won the annual Genesis Prize – nicknamed “the Jewish Nobel” – in 2017, but said this week he would be giving his prize money away to five non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Among the major recipients is David Miliband’s International Rescue Committee, the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA), HIAS (founded as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), Help Refugees, and Hillel International.

“Like many Jews, I do not have to go far back in my family history to find people who were refugees,” said Kapoor, whose design was shortlisted for the new National Holocaust Memorial next to Parliament.

“Directing Genesis Prize funds to this cause is a way of helping people who, like my forebears not too long before them, are fleeing persecution.”

Raising the plight of Syrians, Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and refugees in Europe and northern Uganda, Kapoor said the plight of the tens of millions displaced by fighting “has fallen significantly” while the refugee crisis continues unabated.

“I believe in a world of compassion, and am fortunate to be able to work with The Genesis Prize Foundation and the terrific NGOs receiving our grants to bring more compassion into the world.”

His money will be used to improve community health services for refugees in Africa, provide access to safe water for the Rohingya and support the expansion of a digital platform harnessing social media and other digital tools to help refugees.