Nobel Peace Prize awarded to World Food Programme for fighting global hunger

9 October 2020, 12:10

The WFP won the 2020 prize for its continued efforts to combat world hunger
The WFP won the 2020 prize for its continued efforts to combat world hunger. Picture: PA

This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) for its continued effort to tackle hunger and food insecurity in impoverished regions around the globe.

Announcing the prize on Friday, the Nobel Committee said the problem with world hunger had become more acute in recent years, and the coronavirus pandemic had created a further "upsurge" in victims.

"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 WFP, the Committee added, plays "a key role in multilateral co-operation on making food security an instrument of peace."

Just last year, the Rome-based organisation assisted almost 100 million people in 88 countries around the world.

David Beasley praised the "family" at WFP upon hearing the news
David Beasley praised the "family" at WFP upon hearing the news. Picture: PA

David Beasley, the former Republican governor of South Carolina who was nominated in 2017 by Donald Trump to head the WFP, praised the organisation's "family" as he was notified of the prize.

He said: "I think this is the first time in my life I've been without words.

"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.

"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."

Emerging from a building in Niger - where he was when he received notification of WFP winning the prize - Mr Beasley told awaiting staff: "Two things. I can't believe I'm in Niger when we got the award, and number two, I didn't win it, you won it."

The Nobel Committee has since called on governments around the world to ensure the WFP and other aid organisations are given financial aid to help feed the millions of people suffering food shortages in countries such as Yemen, Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and Burkina Faso.

The WFP, meanwhile, has blamed climate change for worsening the hunger crisis as it wreaks havoc on growing crops.

In April, Mr Beasley warned the UN Security Council the world was "on the brink of a hunger pandemic" that could potentially result in "multiple famines of biblical proportions" should action not be taken.

The prize, which is one of the most prestigious in the world, comes with a gold medal and prize money of £850,000.

The WFP was, this year, one of hundreds of nominees for the award, including 211 individuals and 107 organisations.