The United Nations World Food Program on Friday was awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its campaign to combat hunger around the world as well as it efforts to address surging needs amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Rome-based organization was rewarded 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,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Nobel Committee.
“In the face of the pandemic, the World Food Program has demonstrated an impressive ability to intensify its efforts,” he added.
Last year, the World Health Program provided assistance to almost 100 million people across 88 countries who are victims of food insecurity and hunger. The organization is also the U.N.’s largest specialized agency and the world’s biggest humanitarian group addressing hunger and promoting food security.
“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,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, announcing the award in Oslo.
“The World Food Program plays a key role in multilateral cooperation on making food security an instrument of peace.”
While the World Health Organization works with nations all over the world, its recent areas of focus have been curbing hunger and famine in Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan — where they are battling conflict, poverty and climate change.
WFP has repeatedly blamed climate change for killing of crops and ultimately fueling hunger. Earlier this year, David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Program, warned the U.N. Security Council that the world was “on the brink of a hunger pandemic” which could spark “multiple famines of biblical proportions” if immediate action wasn’t taken.
In a phone interview with the Associated Press from Niger on Friday, Beasley said he was “shocked and surprised” by the win.
“I think this is the first time in my life I’ve been without words,” Beasley added.
He also acknowledged all of the hard workers across the agency, who risk their own health and well-being for others.
“They’re out there in the most difficult, complex places in the world, where there’s war, conflict, climate extremes,” he said. “They deserve this award. And wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.”
With News Wire Services