The World Food Programme has won the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to combat hunger and improve conditions for peace in conflict areas.

Announcing the winner, Nobel committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said: "With this year's award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to turn the eyes of the world towards the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger." 

The WFP was honoured 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," the jury said.

Whether delivering food by helicopter or on the back of an elephant or a camel, the WFP prides itself on being "the leading humanitarian organisation" in a world where, by its own estimates, some 690 million people, one in 11, go to bed on an empty stomach.

Founded in 1961, the UN organisation helped 97 million people last year, distributing 15 billion rations to people in 88 countries last year.

Despite making progress over the past three decades, the UN's goal to eradicate hunger by 2030 appears out of reach if current trends continue, according to experts.

Women and children are usually those most at risk.

The Nobel prize, which consists of a gold medal, a diploma and a cheque for 10 million Swedish kronor (€950,000), will be presented to the winner on 10 December, the anniversary of the 1896 death of Swedish industrialist and philanthropist Alfred Nobel, who created the awards in his will.

Depending on the coronavirus restrictions in place at the time, it will either be awarded in-person at a scaled-back ceremony in Oslo, or remotely in an online ceremony.

President Michael D Higgins sent his congratulations to the World Food Programme on being awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.

He said: "On behalf of the people of Ireland I wish to congratulate the staff and leadership of the World Food Programme on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2020. Traoslaím leo."

Mr Higgins added: "The Nobel Committee, in awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the United Nations' food agency, the World Food Programme, highlighted the organisation's efforts to combat hunger and its contribution to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict."

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The WFP is the latest in a string of UN bodies and officials to have won the prestigious prize since the organisation's creation in 1945.

In 2001, the United Nations itself won the award together with then-secretary general Kofi Annan.

Here is a list of UN bodies and officials who have won the Nobel Peace Prize:
2020: World Food Programme (WFP)
2007: Al Gore (US) and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
2005: UN International Atomic Energy Agency and Mohamed ElBaradei (Egypt)
2001: Kofi Annan (Ghana) and the United Nations

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan

1988: UN Peacekeeping Forces
1981: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
1969: International Labour Organization
1965: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
1961: Dag Hammarskjoeld (Sweden), UN secretary general
1954: Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
1950: Ralph Bunche (US), UN mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict
1949: Lord (John) Boyd Orr of Brechin (Britain), director general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.