Nobel Committee: Hunger is not boring, it’s time for it to be on the agenda

Berit Reiss-AndersenPhoto: Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB
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The head of the World Food Program (WFP) was speechless when he learned that the organization would receive this year’s Peace Prize. Whether David Beasley will actually receive the award in Oslo in December is still uncertain.

With this year’s Peace Prize, the Nobel Committee wants to emphasize that increasing food security can improve the prospects for peace. 

The leader of the Nobel Committee thinks it is high time that the issue of hunger is put on the agenda. 

She hopes the award will be remembered as a powerful and serious reminder.

“Especially for us who live safely in the West – we do not see hunger. We have not experienced hunger,” Berit Reiss-Andersen said.

“It is also necessary to build up this attention to create an understanding that all world societies must contribute to fighting hunger. All countries that are capable must contribute to solving this problem,” she added.

“Speechless”

WFP chief David Beasley said he was speechless when he learned of the award. He is currently in Niger, where he heard the news from an employee.

“I think it’s the first time in my life that I was left speechless. It was just so shocking and surprising,” Beasley told the news agency AP.

The Food Program’s Norwegian vice president Elisabeth Rasmusson says that she is very happy that the organization received this important and well-deserved recognition.

“They do a formidable job every day in some of the world’s most complex situations,” she told NTB.

This year’s Nobel prize ceremony is a scaled-down version of the usual one due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Nobel Institute informed NTB that the practical details are still being prepared.

Coronavirus restrictions

Prime Minister Erna Solberg congratulated WFP on behalf of the Norwegian government. 

She also pointed out that the coronavirus can affect the world’s food supply for a long time.

“We have experienced a setback (in global food security) as a result of the pandemic,” Solberg said, adding that the number of people who are starving was on the way down before the coronavirus.

The Prime Minister believes that the world’s countries have not been good at realizing some of the consequences of recent infection control measures. 

Countries that don’t have ports are now experiencing problems with importing fertilizers, food, and seeds. 

The pandemic has definitely made the hunger problem more relevant, Berit Reiss-Andersen pointed out. 

Not boring

She added that the crisis has led to a sharp increase in the number of people affected by hunger.

“We recognize the important work that the Food Program does, but we also use this award to emphasize the importance of international organizations and multilateral cooperation to solve the challenges that the world faces,” Reiss-Andersen explained.

The award is more general in character than many previous Peace awards aimed at specific conflicts. 

Although the award may be called uncontroversial, the committee chair refuses to call it boring.

“If someone is bored by the fact that 138 million people are starving, then I have nothing to contribute! This is a serious and demanding issue, and it’s high time for it to be put on the agenda,” she concluded.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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