Nobel Peace Prize for World Food Programme

The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation addressing hunger and promoting food security. In 2019, the WFP provided assistance to close to 100 million people in 88 countries who are victims of acute food insecurity and hunger. In 2015, eradicating hunger was adopted as one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The WFP is the UN’s primary instrument for realising this goal. In recent years, the situation has taken a negative turn. In 2019, 135 million people suffered from acute hunger, the highest number in many years. Most of the increase was caused by war and armed conflict.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 to the World Food Programme (WFP) 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.
In India, the grim picture unfolded during the lockdown, marked by the march of millions of migrant labourers trudging back home, bringing into sharp focus their misery as they bore the brunt of businesses getting shut down. Caught on the wrong foot, the government scrambled to provide food and financial stimulus for their sustenance. The Global Hunger Index-2019 ranked India at a lowly 102 out of the 117 countries mapped.
The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a strong upsurge in the number of victims of hunger in the world. In countries such as Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and Burkina Faso, 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.
The hard-working and dedicated staff of the WFP are front-line fighters; they are braving Covid-19 and the fear of getting caught in the crossfires in conflict zones. They tackle huge logistical problems and go above and beyond the call of duty to avert starvation deaths. In places where hunger is used as a weapon of warfare, their work becomes harder.
The World Food Programme was an active participant in the diplomatic process that culminated in May 2018 in the UN Security Council’s unanimous adoption of Resolution 2417, which for the first time explicitly addressed the link between conflict and hunger. The Security Council also underscored UN Member States’ obligation to help ensure that food assistance reaches those in need, and condemned the use of starvation as a method of warfare.
The WFP needs more financial support to feed the rising tide of hungry people. Affluent nations must give generously to the WFP for the success of its mission. Countries, both rich and poor, should come together and make efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and the hunger pandemic with renewed determination.

- Prabhakar Purandare

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