The UN’s World Food Program (WFP) yesterday won the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to combat hunger and food insecurity in regions of conflict and hardship.
The Rome-based organization provided assistance to almost 100 million people in 88 countries around the world last year.
“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,” Norwegian Nobel Committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen said while announcing the award in Oslo.
“The World Food Program plays a key role in multilateral cooperation on making food security an instrument of peace,” she said.
In 2017, US President Donald Trump nominated former South Carolina governor David Beasley to head the UN agency.
Beasley praised the World Food Program “family” and said that it was they who deserved the award.
“I think this is the first time in my life I’ve been without words,” Beasley told reporters by telephone from Niger. “I was just so shocked and surprised.”
“Talk about the most exciting point in time in your life, it’s the Nobel Peace Prize, and it’s because of the WFP family,” he said. “They’re out there in the most difficult, complex places in the world, where there’s war, conflict, climate extremes... They deserve this award. And wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.”
World Food Program staffers in Niger greeted Beasley with cheers and applause as he emerged from a building to address a crowd after the announcement.
“Two things: I can’t believe I’m in Niger when we got the award and No. 2: I didn’t win it, you won it,” he said.
The Nobel committee said that the problem of hunger has again become more acute in the past few years, not least because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has added to the hardship already faced by millions of people around the world.
“In 2019, 135 million people suffered from acute hunger, the highest number in many years,” it said. “Most of the increase was caused by war and armed conflict. The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a strong upsurge in the number of victims of hunger in the world.”
The committee called on governments to ensure that the UN agency and other aid organizations receive the financial support they need.
The award comes with a 10 milion kroner (US$1.13 million) cash prize and a gold medal.
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