Winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize in pictures

Mozambique: Schoolgirls in Beira taking home rations before schools were closed in April. Photo: Karel Prinsloo/Arete/UN Mozambique

By Paul Anthem, Simona Beltrami and Mert Er

As the world’s biggest humanitarian organization picks up a Nobel Peace Prize — working with UN sister agencies, other partners and donors — here are a few things about us you might want to know:

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency, assisting 100 million people in 88 countries.

Award spotlights conflict, climate change and coronavirus as drivers of a deepening global hunger crisis

WFP staff attend to a participant in a Food and Cash assistance scheme Kano, Nigeria, last week. Photo: WFP/Damilola Onafuwa

The World Food Programme has won the Nobel Prize for Peace, it was announced today.

“Every one of the 690 million hungry people in the world today has the right to live peacefully and without hunger,” said WFP’s Executive Director David Beasley, in a statement.

“Today, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has turned the global spotlight on them and on the devastating consequences of conflict.”

He added: “Climate shocks and economic pressures have further compounded their plight. And now, a global pandemic with its brutal impact on economies and communities, is pushing millions more to the brink of starvation.”


Professor Jenny Pearce of the London School of Economics talks to WFP’s Insight to mark the UN’s Day of Living Together in Peace

Colombia: WFP and World Vision provide 5.000 food baskets to Colombians and migrants in Soacha, near Bogotá. Photo: WFP/Mathias Roed

“I refused for a long time,” says Jenny Pearce, a political scientist at the London School of Economics specialising in Latin America, when I ask if she’s ever watched the Netflix series Narcos.

One weekend at a friend’s house in Mexico, with little to do one evening but watch TV, however, and the peace scholar — an expert on ‘violences’ in the region — bit the bullet.

“I have to say, I thought it was pretty well done,” she says, “though there were some issues — the things it didn’t show”.

She possibly means the plight of people like the…

David Beasley tells UN Security Council hundreds of thousands may die without swift intervention — and urgent funding

A WFP-backed nutrition clinic in Kaya, Burkina Faso — with already weak immune systems, undernourished children face a serious threat from COVID-19. Photo: WFP/Marwa Awad

World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley has warned that in addition to the threat posed by COVID-19, the world faces “multiple famines of biblical proportions” that could result in 300,000 deaths per day — a “hunger pandemic”.

Speaking at an online briefing broadcast by the UN on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, Beasley highlighted the fact that there are currently 821 million food-insecure people in the world. “If we don’t prepare and act now, to secure access, avoid funding shortfalls and disruptions to trade,” he said, the result could be a “humanitarian catastrophe … in a short few months”.

UN bodies and humanitarian organizations warn donors that failing to invest $2bn could have devastating consequences

Burkina Faso: A WFP distribution point with social-distancing measures in place. Photo: WFP/Mahamady Ouedraogo

The fight to protect the most vulnerable countries from the coronavirus could “stutter to a halt”, leading humanitarian agencies have warned — only a quarter of the US$2 billion demanded by the joint COVID-19 Humanitarian Response Plan last month has come through.

In an open letter published on Monday, the World Food Programme (WFP) and 14 other humanitarian organizations urged donors to supply a further US$350 million to kickstart the “rapid scale-up” of logistics in the global emergency system.

“Humanity collectively faces its most daunting challenge since the Second World War,” the letter said. With a virus that doesn’t recognise…

Merkel and Macron join African leaders in urging countries, NGOs and World Bank to join forces to tackle the virus

A WFP food distribution site at Madziwa Secondary School in Shamva District, Zimbabwe. Photo: WFP/Claire Nevill

African and European leaders have called for the World Food Programme (WFP) to spearhead the humanitarian response to COVID-19 in Africa, inviting an immediate moratorium on debt and unprecedented health and economic aid packages — otherwise “the pandemic will hit Africa particularly hard, prolonging the crisis globally”.

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron were among 18 signatories recommending a stimulus package of US$100bn for the continent, in a letter published in the Financial Times on Tuesday (14 April), along with Moussa Faki, chair of the African Union Commission, and South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.

Two veterans of the 2014–16 outbreak in West Africa recall how agency stepped up to support medical response

An Ebola treatment centre in Beni in North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where WFP provides specialized nutritious food. Photo: WFP/Jacques David

As Coronavirus casts a gloom that has resulted in an unprecedented use of the word ‘unprecedented’ to describe an outbreak, I thought I’d go in search of some good news, to find a glimmer of cheer.

Ebola might be an odd subject to head to — between 2014 and 2016, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 11,310 people died after contracting the virus. Yet this figure would have been much higher were it not for the World Food Programme (WFP) venturing out of its traditional areas of expertise. And that’s the good news.

‘We are not doctors but we…

Two World Food Programme nutrition experts on how to protect the most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic

Yemen was already considered one of the world’s poorest countries when fighting broke out there five years ago. Photo: WFP/Reem Nada

Nitesh Patel is worried, about Yemen and Sudan in particular. Should coronavirus get a foothold in either of these countries, the nutrition adviser — based at the World Food Programme (WFP) Cairo Regional Bureau — says the consequences will be catastrophic. In February, WFP delivered 14,000 metric tons of food to 2.2 million of Sudan’s population of 40 million.

“Malnourished children under-5 whose immunity is compromised by infections and other medical complications are on the front line,” he says. “Their parents by default are then at high risk of contracting the coronavirus.”

WFP Global Hotspots 2020 highlights countries and regions where rapid assistance and investment are most needed

Food distribution in Pieri, Uror county, South Sudan. Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua

“We do not live well, we do not eat well, and we cannot even move around normally because of the chaos in the country,” says Osena Previlon, who grows fruit and vegetables on her small plot of land outside Gonaives, the largest city in Haiti’s Artibonite department.

Haiti ranks high among countries identified by the World Food Programme (WFP) as being at risk of descending further into crisis without a rapid response and greater investment in 2020.

Women in Bamiyan province take to their bikes in a bid to defeat sexual and gender-based violence

Setting off in Bamiyan, capital of Afghanistan’s eponymous province. Photo: WFP/Fezeh Hosseini

Perhaps it will come as no surprise that the World Food Programme empowers women in Afghanistan by providing them with cash and vocational training in addition to food and nutritional assistance.

A cycling race, however— isn’t that a little off-track for WFP? “Not at all,” says Fezeh Hosseini, the organization’s Programme Policy Officer for Gender Equality in the country.

According to the Women, Peace and Security Index, Afghanistan is second only to Yemen as the worst country in which to be a woman. …

Peyvand Khorsandi

Senior Writer, UN World Food Programme

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