Head of UN Food Aid Agency makes statement receiving prestigious peace award in digital ceremony.
World Food Program (WFP) chief used his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech to warn that a ‘hunger pandemic’ worse than COVID-19 was on the horizon unless the needs of millions of people in the world are not satisfied.
Speaking at a scaled-down online ceremony Thursday on traditional festivities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WFP Executive Director David Beasley said: “Famine is upon humanity’s doorstep for millions and millions of people on Earth.
“Failure to prevent famine today will destroy so many lives and cause many things we hold dear to fall.
“Today I wish I could talk about how, by working together, we could end the world hunger for all the 690 million people who go to bed hungry every night, but today we have a crisis at hand. ”
Beasley’s comments came after WFP received the Nobel Committee’s most prestigious award in October for its efforts to fight hunger and improve conditions for peace.
Collecting the gold medal and the Nobel diploma, he said the prize was “more than a thank you”.
“It’s a call to action,” Beasley said. “Due to so many wars, climate change, the widespread use of hunger as a political and military weapon, and a global health pandemic that is making it all exponentially worse, 270 million people are walking towards famine. .
“Failure to meet their needs will lead to a hunger pandemic that will eclipse the impact of COVID.”
The largest humanitarian organization working to end famine, WFP feeds tens of millions of people every year on every continent.
It is the twelfth organization or member of the United Nations to win a Nobel Prize.
Traditions adapt to the pandemic
Nobel Prizes are traditionally awarded on December 10 – the anniversary of the 1896 death of the founder of the Swedish Nobel Prize winner Alfred Nobel scientist and philanthropist – at lavish ceremonies held in the Swedish and Norwegian capitals, Stockholm and Oslo respectively.
But the pandemic has seen a reduction in festivities this year, both in Oslo, where the Peace Prize is usually announced and presented, and in Stockholm, which is home to the prizes in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and of economy.
In order to respect social distancing measures, only Berit Reiss-Andersen, the head of the five-member Nobel committee, took part in the events in Oslo.
“Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was not possible to accommodate you [the WFP] in Oslo today, ”she said from the Nobel Institute.
“But we are together, despite the distance imposed by the pandemic.”
Meanwhile, in Stockholm, events were mostly pre-recorded for online broadcast.
“This year has been difficult for us, as for many others as well,” Nobel Institute director Olav Njolstad told AFP news agency on the eve of Thursday’s ceremony.
“It’s a shame that the winner is missing out on the usual magic, but there’s nothing we can do about it.
Njolstad tried to put a positive spin on the situation, suggesting: “It is very possible that, paradoxically, more people than usual are watching the awards ceremony since we have put so much effort into being present online. . “