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UN World Food Programme wins 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, as hunger mounts

04 November 20203 min reading

The UN World Food Programme (WFP), which provides lifesaving food assistance to millions across the world – often in extremely dangerous and hard-to-access conditions – has been awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.

The agency was recognized “for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict”, said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the World Food Programme (WFP) is a humbling, moving recognition of the work of WFP staff who lay their lives on the line every day to bring food and assistance for close to 100 million hungry children, women and men across the world. WFP is the largest humanitarian organization in the world. Last year, it assisted 97 million people in 88 countries. Its efforts focus on emergency assistance, relief and rehabilitation, development aid and special operations. Two-thirds of the work is in conflict-affected countries where people are three times more likely to be undernourished than those living in countries without conflict.

GLOBAL FOOD INSECURITY AGGRAVATED BY COVID-19 Praising the work of the UN agency, the Nobel Committee chair highlighted its role in boosting resilience and sustainability among communities by helping them to feed themselves. The COVID-19 crisis has also added to global food insecurity, she added, highlighting that there will likely be 265 million “starving people within a year”. Only the international community can tackle such a challenge, she insisted, before highlighting the fact that WFP had helped millions of people in extremely dangerous and hard-to-reach countries affected by conflict and natural disaster, including Yemen, Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Hailing the WFP as the the “world’s first responder” on the frontlines of food insecurity, Secretary-General António Guterres lauded the UN agency on winning the coveted award. “The women and men of the WFP brave danger and distance to deliver life-saving sustenance to those devastated by conflict, to people suffering because of disaster, to children and families uncertain about their next meal,” Mr. Guterres said in a statement. He drew attention to the plight of millions of people going hungry around the world, amid fears that the COVID-19 pandemic could worsen food security for millions more. “There is also a hunger in our world for international cooperation,” said the Secretary-General, adding that WFP “feeds that need, too”, operating above the realm of politics, with humanitarian need driving its operations. The announcement by the Norwegian Nobel Committee “turned the global spotlight” on the 690 million people suffering hunger globally, David Beasley, WFP Executive Director, said after the announcement. “Every one of [them] has the right to live peacefully and without hunger”, he said, adding that climate shocks and economic pressures have further compounded their plight. “And now, a global pandemic with its brutal impact on economies and communities, is pushing millions more to the brink of starvation.”

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