By Stefan J. Bos
She explained that the World Food Program received the award "for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas. And for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict."
The prestigious award announced in Oslo comes with a gold medal and prize money of 10 million Swedish kronor or 1.1 million dollars. It is courtesy of a bequest left 124 years ago by the prize's creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel.
The U.N. agency's spokesperson Tomson Phiri views the Nobel Peace Prize as recognition of those struggling to prevent starvation around the world. "This is a proud moment. The nomination in itself was enough. But to then go on and be named the Nobel Peace Prize winner is nothing short of a feat," he told reporters in Geneva, Switzerland.
"This is an organization I have served for nine years. I have seen the extent to which the people who are dedicated across the globe go the extra mile. Just before I moved to Geneva, I was based in South Sudan, where people would walk on foot to serve humanity. And it's really a proud moment. I really feel honored to be a member of this," he added.
Whether on foot, by helicopter, or on the back of an elephant or a camel, the World Food Program says its deliveries are crucial as the world is in turmoil. It estimates that an estimated 690 million people – one in 11 – go to bed on an empty stomach.
Despite making progress over the past three decades, the U.N. agency appears unable to realize the United Nations' goal to eradicate hunger by 2030. Wars and other conflicts continue to ravage parts of the world.
And experts warn that coronavirus measures such as lockdowns also negatively impact impoverished nations where many lost jobs and are without social support.
The U.N. estimates that the global recession caused by the COVID-19 crisis pushed an additional 83 to 132 million people into hunger. Women and children are usually those most at risk.
Organizers say the coronavirus outbreak will also affect the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony on December 10 in Oslo. The gathering in the Norwegian capital has been scaled back due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This is the 12th time the Peace Prize has gone to the U.N., one of its agencies or personalities – more than any other laureate.