The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded this year to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) for its efforts to combat hunger, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced Friday.

With the world in danger of a hunger crisis, the Nobel committee praised the WFP for “acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.”

Nobel Peace Prize Committee Chair Berit Reiss-Andersen said in a press conference that they aimed to “turn the eyes of the world to the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger.”

The novel coronavirus pandemic has contributed to an upsurge in the number of hunger victims around the world, the committee said, pointing to countries, like Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and Burkina Faso.

“In the face of the pandemic, the World Food Programme has demonstrated an impressive ability to intensify its efforts,” it added. “As the organisation itself has stated, ‘Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos.'”

Hunger and food insecurity can cause conflicts, just as conflicts could lead to hunger and food insecurity, the committee said, adding: “The World Food Programme plays a key role in multilateral cooperation on making food security an instrument of peace, and has made a strong contribution towards mobilising UN Member States to combat the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.”

The WFP thanked the Nobel committee for the prize on Twitter: “This is a powerful reminder to the world that peace and #ZeroHunger go hand-in-hand.”

The prize is worth 10 million Swedish krona ($1.1 million).

Last year’s Nobel Peace Prize had gone to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, for “efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation and for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea.”

Previous winners of the award include former US Presidents Jimmy Carter (2002) and Barack Obama (2009), as well as activist Malala Yousafzai (2014); the EU (2012), the UN and its then Secretary-General Kofi Annan (2001).

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