Nobel Peace Prize 2020: World Food Programme wins award for tackling acute hunger during pandemic

The World Food Programme provides food to more than 90 million people a year

Clea Skopeliti
Friday 09 October 2020 15:09 BST
The WFP has won the 2020 peace award
The WFP has won the 2020 peace award (EPA-EFE)

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) for fighting hunger and enabling peace in conflict regions during the coronavirus pandemic.

The award committee praised “its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict”.

Announcing the winner on Friday in Oslo, committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen said: “With this year’s award, the (committee) wishes to turn the eyes of the world to the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger. 

“The WFP plays a key role in multilateral cooperation in making food security an instrument of peace.

“The WFP contributes daily to advancing the fraternity of nations mentioned in Alfred Nobel’s will.”

The programme’s head, David Beasley, said he was left speechless by the honour given to his organisation.

“I think this is the first time in my life I’ve been without words. I was just so shocked and surprised,” he said.

In 2019, the WFP, which is the world’s leading humanitarian organisation combating hunger, provided assistance to close to 100 million people in 88 countries who suffered from acute food insecurity and hunger.

The WFP is the UN’s main tool in its fight to eradicate hunger — one of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by member states in 2015. 

The committee recognised the way the UN initiative stepped up to meet the challenge of the pandemic, which has exacerbated the problem of global hunger, saying it demonstrated an “impressive ability to intensify its efforts”.

Faced with the twin problems of hunger and the deadly virus, the WFP has said: “Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos.”

Responding to the news that the UN initiative won the award, Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, tweeted: “Fantastic news to see the World Food Programme win the @NobelPrize, As the third biggest donor to @WFP, [UK] will continue to support their vital work around the world to save lives & stop starvation during #COVID19.”

The programme was established in 1961, and now provides food to more than 90 million people each year.

The prize, worth nine million Swedish crowns (£716,000), will be presented in Oslo on 10 December.

One in five of the Nobel Peace Prizes in the 21st century has been awarded to a UN organisation. 

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