Oslo: The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the World Food Programme on Friday for feeding millions of people from Yemen to North Korea, with the coronavirus pandemic pushing millions more into hunger.
The WFP was “a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict”, Nobel committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said on unveiling the winner in Oslo. “This is a powerful reminder to the world that peace and #ZeroHunger go hand-in-hand,” the Rome-based organisation said.
Founded in 1961, the UN body helped 97 million people last year, distributing 15 billion rations to people in 88 countries. Whether delivering food by helicopter or on the back of an elephant or a camel, the WFP prides itself on being “the leading humanitarian organisation” in a world where, by its own estimates, some 690 million people — one in 11 — go to bed on an empty stomach.
“With this year’s award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to turn the eyes of the world towards the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger,” Reiss-Andersen said.
“The link between hunger and armed conflict is a vicious circle: war and conflict can cause food insecurity and hunger, just as hunger and food insecurity can cause latent conflicts to flare up and trigger the use of violence. We will never achieve the goal of zero hunger unless we also put an end to war and armed conflict,” Reiss-Andersen said.
WFP executive director David Beasley said the agency was “deeply humbled” by winning the prize, adding it had rendered him “speechless”.
This is the 12th time the Peace Prize has gone to the UN, one of its agencies or personalities — more than any other laureate. The award consists of a gold medal, a diploma and a cheque for 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million).
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