Rabat – The Nobel Committee on Friday decided to award this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to the World Food Programme (WFP). The committee stated that the WFP’s effort to fight hunger worldwide has contributed to creating the “conditions for peace” that many conflict-areas direly need.
The WFP has prevented “the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict,” according to a statement by the committee on Friday. The Nobel Peace Pize was announced by the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Bert Reiss-Andersen in a virtual press conference. In an empty echoing room, symbolizing the strange COVID-19 driven context of this year, the WFP was deemed the most important contributor to peace in 2020.
“The need for international solidarity and multilateral cooperation is more conspicuous than ever” the committee said as it opened the prestigious announcement. The WFP was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to combat hunger, providing assistance to close to 100 million people in 88 countries.
The staff of the WFP often performs emotionally taxing and directly life-saving functions in areas of conflict and natural disaster around the world. In Yemen alone the organization has operated valiantly in the face of shrinking budgets and global indifference.Its work across Africa, in particular in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Burkina Faso received special mention from the committee.
“In the face of the pandemic, the World Food Programme has demonstrated an impressive ability to intensify its efforts,” stated the Nobel committee, underlining the WFP’s important role in the 2020 health crisis. “Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos” the Nobel committee continued referring to an earlier WFP statement.
With a possible global food crisis looming on the horizon, the Nobel committee’s choice is a welcome acknowledgement of the importance of the WFP’s work across the globe. In recognizing WFP’s significance for the world, the Nobel Committee said it hopes “to turn the eyes of the world towards the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger.”
The WFP, which operates within the United Nations, has struggled to raise funds in the face of crises in Yemen and other conflict zones. In Yemen this year WFP workers have been asked to reduce daily food portions by half as budgets shrank and a $1 billion budget gap remained unfilled. At the same time, however, tens of billions of dollars were spent on saving Western airline and hotel industries.
“The organisation contributes daily to advancing the fraternity of nations referred to in Alfred Nobel’s will” the committee said about the WFP. The prestigious prize comes with a $1.1 million cash prize, but the Nobel Committee expressed hope that the award would help raise awareness for the WFP’s difficulties in fundraising for its life-saving work.
It also stated that the WFP’s work “to the benefit of humankind is an endeavour that all the nations of the world should be able to endorse and support.” In a world of divided opinions and competing interests, the Nobel Committee’s choice of the WFP is a powerful statement to advance global solidarity in the face of economic, food, and health crises.