Friday, October 9, 2020 2:14 pm
By Nehru Odeh
The United Nations’ World Food Programme, has been awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. Making the announcement today at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway, Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said the United Nation’s body was awarded for providing food assistance to millions of people across the globe, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.
Reiss-Andersen said the WFP was honoured “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.”
She also noted that the organization’s effort’s in combating the surge of hunger also laid the foundation for peace in war-torn areas. Food is the best vaccine against chaos” she maintained;
“The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a strong upsurge in the number of victims of hunger in the world,” she said.
“In the face of the pandemic, the World Food Programme has demonstrated an impressive ability to intensify its efforts.”
“As the organization itself has stated: until the day we have a vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos,” Reiss-Andersen said.
Meanwhile, David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Programme, has reacted with joy and disbelief to the prize.
“This is the first time in my life I’ve been speechless! I can’t believe it!” he told staff from Niamey, Niger.
The World Food Programme has also thanked its staff for putting their lives on the line and the Nobel Committee for the award. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director of the World Health Organization, a frontrunner for the award, has also praised the decision on Twitter.
“Huge admiration and respect for the life-saving work you do for people in need everywhere,” he wrote.
This award is not only timely but also worth it. At a time the globe is wracked not just by war but also by starvation, diseases and deaths in the wake of the novel coronavirus, this recognition will go a long way to make the WFP intensify efforts to combat hunger and therefore ensure global peace. Last year, it provided assistance to nearly one million people in 88 countries.
The award will also raise the level of popular expectations and give hope to millions of people frazzled by starvation and diseases across the globe, in the sense that they now know that the globe is not just concerned about their existential condition but is also making efforts to find solutions to them.
At a time the World Food Programme is facing financial difficulties caused by underfunding and a drop in contributions in recent years, as Reiss-Anderson said “This is also a call to the international community not to underfund the World Food Programme.” Many countries, including the United States reduced their contributions to global organizations in recent years
“This is an obligation, in our mind, of all states of the world to ensure that people are not starving,” she said
The award will also in the long run make for peace across the globe, as millions of people, conscious of the fact that the world is concerned about their plight and suffering and is making efforts to alleviate it, will rather than take laws into their hands and engage in violent illegal activities, join hand s with constituted authorities to find solutions to their problems.
The award is indeed worth celebrating by all and sundry across the globe. As noted by The New York Times, “the World Food Program, established in 1961 after a proposal by President Dwight Eisenhower, has been a major behind-the-scenes player helping people affected by some of the world’s most devastating humanitarian disasters, including famine in Ethiopia in the 980s, wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.”