Reactions have continued to pour in from top officials of the United Nations following the award of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize to the World Food Programme (WFP).
WFP, an agency of the global body, won the prize for its efforts to combat hunger and improve conditions for peace in conflict areas.
Chairperson of the Norwegian Nobel committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, announced this on Friday, praising WFP for being a driving force to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was delighted by the Nobel committee’s decision, describing WFP as the “world’s first responder on the frontlines of food insecurity”.
Guterres said officials of the agency defy danger and distance to deliver “life-saving sustenance to those devastated by conflict” and to “children and families uncertain about their next meal”.
Announcing the award earlier, Reiss-Andersen said it was also a call on the international community to fund the agency adequately.
WFP is funded by voluntary contributions from UN member states and the general public, according to the UN Chief.
“Such solidarity is precisely needed now to address not only the pandemic, but other global tests of our time.
“We know that existential threats such as climate change will make the hunger crisis even worse,” he stated in a video message.
Guterres said it was unreasonable that hundreds of millions were still going to bed each night on empty stomach in a world of plenty.
Millions more are now on the precipice of famine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to him.
He congratulated the Executive Director, Mr David Beasley, and entire staff of the WFP for advancing the values of the UN everyday.
In a statement, the WFP executive director said the award had “turned the global spotlight” on the 690 million people suffering hunger globally.
Beasley said everyone of them had the right to live peacefully and without hunger, adding that climate shocks and economic pressures had further compounded their plight.
He acknowledged the support of governments, organisations and private sector partners, “whose passion for helping the hungry and vulnerable equals ours”.
In his reaction, President of the UN General Assembly, Amb. Volkan Bozkir, extended “heartfelt congratulations” to WFP for the “well-deserved” award.
Bozkir described the agency as a “critical pillar of the multilateral system, which serves as a vital lifeline for millions of the world’s most vulnerable people”.
For her part, President of the UN Economic and Social Council, Amb. Munir Juul, also congratulated WFP for the “well-deserved accomplishment.”
“In the middle of COVID-19, you have continued to scale up efforts to bring food assistance to the most vulnerable,” Juul tweeted.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation, WFP’s sister agency, said the prize “is a new engine driving the food security issue to the forefront”.
In a statement, FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, said the award also “underlined the importance of international solidarity and multilateral cooperation.”
Established in 1961, WFP is now the seventh UN agency, besides the UN itself, to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
The others include Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
UN Peacekeeping, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have also won the prize.
Former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, and former Under-Secretary-General Ralph Bunche are also Nobel laureates.