News World UN food agency wins 2020 Nobel Peace Prize
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UN food agency wins 2020 Nobel Peace Prize

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United Nations food agency the World Food Programme has been awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to combat hunger and improve conditions for peace in areas affected by conflict.

The announcement was made in Oslo by Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Nobel Committee, who said the world was “in danger of facing a hunger crisis”.

The Rome-based organisation helps almost 100 million people in about 88 countries each year, and that one in nine people worldwide still do not have enough to eat.

“The need for international solidarity and multilateral co-operation is more conspicuous than ever,” Ms Reiss-Andersen said on Friday (local time).

The World Food Programme (WFP) is a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which the WFP says could double hunger worldwide, has made it even more relevant, Reiss-Andersen said.

“The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a strong upsurge in the number of victims of hunger in the world,” the Nobel committee said in its citation.

“Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos.”

WFP responded by tweeting its thanks for “recognition of the work of WFP staff who put their lives on the line every day to bring food and assistance to more than 100 million hungry children, women and men across the world”.

At a briefing in Geneva, WFP spokesman Tomson Phiri told reporters WFP had gone “over and above” the call of duty this year.

“Everything went into shutdown following nationwide and global restrictions following COVID-19,” he said.

“The WFP stepped up to the plate, we were able to connect communities. At one point, we were the biggest airline in the world when most if not all commercial airlines had ground to halt.”

Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said the Norwegian Nobel Committee had wanted to send a message of both hope and support for international co-operation.

“Hunger, like climate change, the pandemic and other issues, is a world problem that can only be properly addressed through co-operation. The World Food Programme is an institution of global co-operation,” he said.

The prize is worth 10 million Swedish crowns, or around $A1.5 million, and will be presented in Oslo on December 10.

-with agencies