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Nobel Peace Prize Is Awarded To World Food Programme

A woman holds a voucher before receiving food aid, in Mudzi, Zimbabwe, in February. Friday, the United Nations World Food Programme received the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.
A woman holds a voucher before receiving food aid, in Mudzi, Zimbabwe, in February. Friday, the United Nations World Food Programme received the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.

Honoring the humanitarian group, the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo cites the "need for international solidarity."

Updated at 7:25 a.m. ET

The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the World Food Programme Friday morning, with the award committee stating, "The need for international solidarity and multilateral cooperation is more conspicuous than ever."

The citation says the humanitarian organization, part of the United Nations, is being recognized "for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict."

"Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. I can't believe it!" the WFP's executive director, David Beasley, said in a video response to the organization and its staff winning the award.

"It's because of the WFP family," Beasley said. "They're out there in the most difficult, complex places in the world. Whether it's war, conflict, climate extremes — it doesn't matter. They're out there, and they deserve this award."

The WFP is active in 83 nations. It says its staff "put their lives on the line every day to bring food and assistance to more than 100 million hungry children, women and men across the world."

The group said on Twitter that it is "deeply humbled to receive the #NobelPeacePrize."

The award committee chose the food aid group over a number of high-profile possible winners, including President Trump.

Trump has touted his nomination by a right-wing Norwegian politician on the campaign trail, but he was not among the top favorites to win the peace prize, according to odds listed on the site Gambling.com.

Ahead of Friday's announcement, betting houses had listed the World Health Organization as the top contender, the site says, followed by climate activist Greta Thunberg and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Another U.N. organization, the refugee relief agency UNHCR, was seen as having the same chance of winning as Trump.

The prize announcement was made by Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, who said in this time of pandemic "multilateral cooperation is absolutely necessary to combat global challenges."

In an interview with NPR earlier this year, Beasley said the organization's task has grown enormously as a result of the global pandemic.

"Before COVID I had been giving speeches particularly in Europe and some in the United States, that 2020 was going to be the worst humanitarian crisis year since WWII," Beasley said. "135 million people pre-COVID are on the brink of starvation. Because of COVID we are now looking at an additional 130 million people that will be knocking on the door of starvation for a total of about a quarter of a billion people."

The 2020 Norwegian Nobel Committee, which names the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. From left: Thorbjørn Jagland, Henrik Syse (vice chair), Berit Reiss-Andersen (chair), Anne Enger, Olav Njølstad (secretary) and Asle Toje.
Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix
The 2020 Norwegian Nobel Committee, which names the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. From left: Thorbjørn Jagland, Henrik Syse (vice chair), Berit Reiss-Andersen (chair), Anne Enger, Olav Njølstad (secretary) and Asle Toje.

The five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee chooses the winner of the Peace Prize. Committee members are named to six-year terms by the Norwegian Storting, or parliament.

The committee considered 318 candidates for the 2020 prize, the fourth largest number ever. Of the nominations, 211 were individuals and 108 were organizations.

The 2020 Nobel Prizes bring a cash award of 10 million Swedish krona ($1.12 million).

As is customary, the announcement was made in the Grand Hall of the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.