The World Food Program was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for its efforts to combat a surge in global hunger amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has swept around the world with devastating impact.
The Nobel committee said that work by the organization, a United Nations agency, to address hunger had laid the foundations for peace in nations ravaged by war.
“In the face of the pandemic, the World Food Program has demonstrated an impressive ability to intensify its efforts,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said as she announced the prize in Oslo. “The combination of violent conflict and the pandemic has led to a dramatic rise in the number of people living on the brink of starvation,” she added.
In many nations, particularly those at war, the combination of conflict and the pandemic has sharply increased the number of people on the brink of starvation. As the global fallout from the pandemic began this spring, the World Food Program estimated that the number of people experiencing life-threatening levels of food insecurity could more than double this year, to 265 million.
The World Food Program — the largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security internationally — last year provided assistance to nearly 100 million people in 88 countries.
The Nobel committee’s recognition of a United Nations agency comes as the United States under President Trump has very publicly pulled back support for the global organization.
Since he took office in 2017, the United States has withdrawn from several United Nations bodies and slashed funding for others, although World Food Program contributions have increased. Mr. Trump has contended that the United States is shouldering an outsized financial responsibility for the global body as compared with other countries.
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SOURCE: The New York Times, Megan Specia and Matina Stevis-Gridneff