The Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize to the World Food Programme, a United Nations agency, for its efforts to combat hunger and improve conditions for peace in areas affected by conflict. The committee noted that the World Food Program demonstrated “an impressive ability to intensify its efforts” as the coronavirus pandemic pushed millions more into hunger.

The committee said in a statement that the programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation which focuses on addressing hunger and promoting food security. “In 2019, the WFP provided assistance to close to 100 million people in 88 countries who are victims of acute food insecurity and hunger,” the statement added.

It said that the World Food Programme was an active participant in the diplomatic process that culminated in May 2018 in the UN Security Council’s unanimous adoption of Resolution 2417. The resolution was one of the first to explicitly address the link between conflict and hunger.

“The link between hunger and armed conflict is a vicious circle: war and conflict can cause food insecurity and hunger, just as hunger and food insecurity can cause latent conflicts to flare up and trigger the use of violence,” the committee said. It added the WFP is a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.

“The work of the World Food Programme to the benefit of humankind is an endeavour that all the nations of the world should be able to endorse and support,” the statement said.

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the World Health Organization were considered contenders for this year’s award.

Last year, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali had won the prize for his efforts to end the country’s conflict with its neighbour Eritrea.

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to American poet Louise Glück on Thursday “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”.

On Wednesday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Emmanuelle Charpentier of France and Jennifer A Doudna of the United States for the development of a method for genome editing.

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded on Tuesday went to Roger Penrose for black hole discovery and Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for discovering a supermassive compact object at the centre of galaxy.

On Monday, the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to Americans Harvey J Alter and Charles Rice along with Briton Michael Houghton for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus.

The committee will announce the Nobel Prize for Economics on October 12.