World Food Programme wins Nobel Peace Prize

OSLO (AFP) – The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the World Food Programme (WFP) yesterday 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 on Twitter.

Founded in 1961, the United Nations (UN) body helped 97 million people last year, distributing 15 billion rations to people in 88 countries last year.

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.”

WFP spokesman Tomson Phiri described the win as “humbling” and a “proud moment”.

Despite making progress over the past three decades, the UN’s goal to eradicate hunger by 2030 appears out of reach if current trends continue, according to experts.

Women and children are generally most at risk. War can be caused by hunger, but hunger is also a consequence of war, with people living in areas of conflict three times more likely to be undernourished than those living in countries at peace, the WFP said.

“There’s no two ways about it – we can’t end hunger unless we put an end to conflict,” WFP executive director David Beasley said in September.