COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD/AP) – Former South Carolina Governor David Beasley is celebrating after an organization in which he serves as chief director has won the Nobel Peace Prize.
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian agency and aims to provide food to millions across the globe in a fight against hunger.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced on Friday the organization has been awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize “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.”
Beasley serves chief director for the humanitarian organization. He was nominated for the position by former SC governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.
“This is the first time in my life I’ve been speechless. This is unbelievable,” he said in a video Friday morning. “Talk about the most exciting point in time in your life is the Nobel Peace Prize, and it’s because of the WFP family. 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.”
According to a report from the Associated Press, the Rome-based United Nations agency has long specialized in getting assistance to some of the world’s most dangerous and precarious places, from air-dropping food in South Sudan and Syria to creating an emergency delivery service that kept aid flowing even as antivirus restrictions grounded commercial flights.
“With this year’s award, the (committee) wishes to turn the eyes of the world to the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, announcing the award in Oslo. “The World Food Program plays a key role in multilateral cooperation on making food security an instrument of peace.”
WFP staffers in Niger greeted Beasley with cheers and applause as he emerged to address a crowd after the announcement. “Two things,” he told them. “I can’t believe I’m in Niger when we got the award, and No. 2, I didn’t win it, you won it.”
The award comes with a gold medal and a 10-milion krona ($1.1 million) cash prize that is dwarfed by the funding that WFP requires for its work. So far in 2020, the organization has received almost $6.4 billion in cash or goods, with more than a third, over $2.7 billion, coming from the United States.
Beasley recently said the WFP has partnered with UNICEF and the World Health Organization to send millions of testing supplies and equipment to nearly 80 countries amid the coronavirus pandemic.