This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the World Food Programme (WFP) for its “efforts to combat hunger” and its “contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which presented the award in Oslo on Friday, also described the organization as “a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.”
In awarding the prize, committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen noted the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global food supplies and criticized the politics of populism.
The WFP, a United Nations entity, was created in 1961 and today provides food to over 100 million people a year.
The organization tweeted its “deepest thanks” for the honor, adding: “This is a powerful reminder to the world that peace and #ZeroHunger go hand-in-hand.”
It praised its staff who it said “put their lives on the line every day.”
Executive director David Beasley reacted with joy to the news of his organization’s Nobel win. “It’s the first time in my life I’ve actually been speechless, I really can’t believe it,” he told CNN’s Connect the World from Niger.
He said that the award was a “call to action,” urging people to “step up and step up now.”
“Where there’s starvation there’s conflict, destabilization and migration,” he said, adding that the world was now experiencing “all of those things coupled with Covid.”
Beasley warned there were “possibilities of famines of biblical proportions,” calling for billions of dollars in additional aid to save people around the globe.
“We’re looking for a vaccine for Covid; we have a vaccine for hunger — it’s called food, and we have the food. We need the money and the access to solve it,” he added.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director of the World Health Organization, which was itself tipped as a frontrunner for the award, praised the decision on Twitter. “Huge admiration and respect for the life-saving work you do for people in need everywhere,” he wrote.
Tunisian actress Hend Sabry, a WFP ambassador, said she was “proud” of her role and wrote that the organization “is mainly a web of wonderful people from all around the world, doing their best to fight hunger.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said the need for international solidarity and multilateral cooperation was more conspicuous than ever. It said it wanted to turn the eyes of the world towards the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger.
“The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a strong upsurge in the number of victims of hunger in the world,” said Reiss-Andersen.
“In the face of the pandemic, the World Food Programme has demonstrated an impressive ability to