OSLO – The World Food Program won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for fighting hunger and seeking to end its use as "a weapon of war and conflict” at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has driven millions more people to the brink of starvation.
Announcing the prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said it wished “to turn the eyes of the world towards the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger.”
The committee also said it hoped that bestowing the prize on the U.N. agency would highlight the need to strengthen global solidarity and cooperation in an era of go-it-alone nationalism.
“We are sending a signal to every nation who raises objections to international cooperation,” committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen said. “We are sending a signal to this type of nationalism where the responsibility for global affairs is not being faced.”
The Rome-based agency was established in 1961 at the behest of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower and has brought aid to multiple crises, including Ethiopia's famine of 1984, the Asian tsunami of 2004 and the Haiti earthquake of 2010.
It continues to bring assistance to the world’s most dangerous and precarious places, from air-dropping food in South Sudan and Syria to creating an emergency delivery service that kept aid flowing even as pandemic restrictions grounded commercial flights.
In bestowing what is arguably the world's most prestigious prize on the World Food Program, the Norwegian committee is honoring an organization headed by David Beasley, a Republican former South Carolina governor nominated for the job by President Donald Trump.
Beasley said the prize rightly goes to his entire team.