UN World Food Program wins Nobel Peace Prize

Saturday, 10 Oct, 2020

On Friday, when the award was announced, Beasley was in Niger, following a visit to neighboring Burkina Faso - two countries in the Sahel region of Africa that her said is "under attack by extremists and climate extremes" and going through "a devastating" time.

A giddy Beasley praised the WFP "family" and said they deserved the award.

"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". In spring this year, WFP director David Beasley warned that the world faced famines "of biblical proportions". "Huge admiration and respect for the life-saving work you do for people in need everywhere", he wrote. "The work of the World Food Program to the benefit of humankind is an endeavor that all the nations of the world should be able to endorse and support".

WFP spokesman Tomson Phiri said it was a "proud moment" and "nothing short of a feat" after the organisation won the prize.

"The need for global solidarity and multilateral cooperation is more conspicuous than ever", Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, told a news conference on Friday. In 2019, the WFP provided assistance to close to 100 million people in 88 countries who are victims of acute food insecurity and hunger.

In Bangladesh, hit this year by floods that covered a quarter of the country, early warning systems provided four-day notice of the coming deluge, WFP's Laganda said.

"There are good reasons for a prize in the field of journalism", said Sverre Lodgaard, a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI).

"Hunger, like climate change, the pandemic and other issues, is a world problem that can only be properly addressed through cooperation. The Prime Minister's swift action on Covid-19 helped New Zealand maintain one of the world's lowest death rates".

The WFP expressed its "deepest thanks" Friday for being chosen to receive what is arguably the most prestigious of the various Nobel Prizes.

Ardern has been nominated for the way she handled the aftermath of the Christchurch terror attack that happened past year as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year's peace prize went to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for his work to end nearly two decades of conflict with neighboring Eritrea.

Some, however, noted that the World Food Program's top donors are also major food exporters and often involved in the sale of arms to conflict zones where the agency works, from Afghanistan to Yemen.

That last part was a reminder that the World Health Organization, in the midst of arguably the worst pandemic in a century, stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars if the USA follows on Trump's intention to withdraw from it completely.

Smith added, however: "Donald Trump is the embodiment of the spirit of anti-cooperation and by contrast the World Food Programme is the embodiment of the spirit of cooperation".

In honoring the United Nations food program, the Nobel peace committee was highlighting the need for global solidarity and multilateralism at a time of increasing polarization and go-it-alone nationalism.

Reiss-Andersen made a pointed rebuke of populism as she answered questions from journalists about the award of the prize.

Aid has recently been cut at hundreds of health centres and some humanitarian programmes reduced or shut down, as the United Nations struggles for financial support in part due to cuts in funding from the US.

But during the pandemic time, the WFP has contributed to making the situation better. "Proposed massive cuts to food assistance would do long-term harm to our national security interests".

The agency, based in Rome, was founded in 1962 on the initiative of President Eisenhower and was quickly put to the test within months by a devastating quake in Iran.

Nobel Foundation rules state if nobody deserves the prize in a particular category, it is not awarded and its prize money is kept for the following year. Tuesday's prize for physics honoured breakthroughs in understanding the mysteries of cosmic black holes, and the chemistry prize on Wednesday went to scientists behind a powerful gene-editing tool.

This breaking story has been updated with additional reporting.