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United Nations World Food Programme awarded 2020 Nobel Peace Prize

The United Nations World Food Programme won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. Source: Website

The chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said the food agency's relevance has only been boosted with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United Nations food agency, the World Food Programme (WFP), has won this year's Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to combat hunger and improve conditions for peace in areas affected by conflict.

The Rome-based organisation says it helps some 97 million people in about 88 countries each year, and that one in nine people worldwide still do not have enough to eat.

"The need for international solidarity and multilateral cooperation is more conspicuous than ever," Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, told a news conference on Friday. 

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The WFP is a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict, with the COVID-19 outbreak further boosting its relevance, she said.

"The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a strong upsurge in the number of victims of hunger in the world," the Nobel committee said in its citation.

"Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos. 

"There is an estimate within the World Food Programme that ... there will be 265 million starving people within a year, so of course this is also a call to the international community not to underfund the World Food Programme."

The World Food Programme said this was "a proud moment ... nothing short of a feat".

The prize is worth 10 million Swedish crowns, or around $1.1 million, and will be presented in Oslo on 10 December.

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