Oct. 9 (UPI) — The United Nations’ World Food Program is the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020, The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced Friday in Oslo.
Committee members said the U.N. program was recognized for its efforts to fight hunger and bring peace to parts of the world affected by violence, and for “acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.”
Friday marked the 25th time since the founding of the prize in 1901 that an organization, instead of an individual, has been given the Peace Prize.
The WFP is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization that addresses hunger and promotes food security. It also serves as the United Nations’ primary instrument for reaching sustainable development goals of eradicating hunger.
At a time when COVID-19 is causing a strong upsurge of hunger in the world, the WFP has provided assistance to nearly 100 million people in 88 countries affected by acute food insecurity and hunger, the Nobel Committee said.
Last year, 135 million people were estimated to be in acute hunger — the highest number in many years — mainly due to war and other armed conflict.
The situation is causing the WFP to run short on funding. In June, the program warned that it would have “no choice” but to suspend airlifts for critical aid deliveries if it didn’t receive financial assistance.
“The world is in danger of experiencing a hunger crisis of inconceivable proportions if the World Food Program and other food assistance organizations do not receive the financial support they have requested,” the Nobel Committee said.
WFP Executive Director David Beasley said he was “humbled” by the Peace Prize and credited the program’s “family.”
“It’s because they’re out there in the most difficult, complex places in the world, where there’s war, conflict, climate extremes… it doesn’t matter. They’re out there and they deserve this award,” he tweeted.
The Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded Monday, the physics prize on Tuesday, the award for chemistry on Wednesday and the prize for literature on Thursday.
The winner of the Nobel Peace for Economic Sciences will be named Monday.