UN World Food Programme wins 2020 Nobel Peace Prize
The UN World Food Programme (WFP), which provides lifesaving food assistance to millions across the world – often in extremely dangerous and hard-to-access conditions – was awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize today. The agency was recognized “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 to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict”, said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
WFP's spokesperson in Geneva reacted to the announcement by the Norwegian Nobel Committee at the United Nations press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland: “I have just learned that the Nobel Peace Price has been awarded to the World Food Programme”, said Tomson Phiri, Spokesperson of the World Food Programme (WFP).
WFP is the largest humanitarian organization in the world. Last year, it assisted 97 million people in 88 countries. Its efforts focus on emergency assistance, relief and rehabilitation, development aid and special operations. Two-thirds of the work is in conflict-affected countries where people are three times more likely to be undernourished than those living in countries without conflict.
“Yes, I will just say this is a pride moment, the nomination itself was enough and then to go out to be named Nobel Peace Price winner is nothing short of a feat”, Tomson Phiri said. “This is an organization I have served for 9 years. I have seen the extent to which people 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 great team”.
With this recognition, WFP joins the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Peacekeeping, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld and former Under-Secretary-General Ralph Bunche, and the UN itself as Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
"I think the great list of organizations that have been nominated do fantastic work. And for WFP as well, I think for this year we have gone all and above the call of duty. We have been able to support, even when other -- I mean you saw everything went into shutdown following nationwide global restrictions following Covid-19 -- the World Food Programme 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 have grounded to a halt," Mr Phiri said.
"We were able to move assistance to keep people moving," he continued. "We were able to deliver assistance and this was through the global common services that we provided that some, most, of the aid workers, were able to stay in some places and deliver, even in communities where people were at risk of both the infection and hunger”.
Mr. Phiri explained that thanks to its global logistics network, the agency had made it possible for a number of other humanitarian actors to continue to do their work even as the COVID-19 pandemic brought global activity to a grinding halt. WFP not only provided short-term food aid, he explained, but also assisted people to become self-sustainable, growing enough food to feed themselves. Funded entirely by voluntary donations, WFP received record support in 2020, Mr. Phiri said.
“This is really a proud moment. This is a humbling nomination to say the least. Not only is it for the staff and the people who work for the World Food Programme, but also the many volunteers and the communities we are working in”, Tomson Phiri said.
Praising the work of the UN agency, Nobel Committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen highlighted WFP’s role in boosting resilience and sustainability among communities by helping them to feed themselves.
WFP, Headquartered in Rome, was established in 1961 and had helped millions of people in extremely dangerous and hard-to-reach countries affected by conflict and natural disaster, including Yemen, Syria and North Korea.