Nobel Prize Winner U.N. World Food Program Led By Former Republican Governor Who Supports Trump

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its role in combating hunger and helping areas of the world riven by conflict.

Among those being considered for the award was President Donald Trump, who had been nominated twice: Once for his role in U.S.-brokered discussions between Serbia and Kosovo and the other, for supporting the successful peace talks between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

The WFP's executive director is Republican politician and former South Carolina governor, David Beasley. After learning of the award, Beasley told the Associated Press from Niger: "I think this is the first time in my life I've been without words," adding "I was just so shocked and surprised."

He later posted a video on Twitter, crediting the WFP team with the award.

We are deeply humbled to receive the #NobelPeacePrize. This is an incredible recognition of the dedication of the @WFP family, working to end hunger everyday in 80+ countries.

Thank you @NobelPrize for this incredible honor!

— David Beasley (@WFPChief) October 9, 2020

Earlier this week, Beasley told the UN Security Council that conflicts in Syria and Yemen, deepening crises in places like South Sudan, plus the coronavirus pandemic, could see the number of people suffering from acute hunger double to 265 million this year unless governments and private companies step in.

"We're already facing a perfect storm. So today, with COVID-19, I want to stress that we are not only facing a global health pandemic but also a global humanitarian catastrophe," he said on Tuesday. In a call for support, he also warned that the economic impact of the lockdown risked causing more death the virus itself.

I talk about the impacts of #COVID19 a lot. That’s because this crisis is far from over, especially for the families already struggling with hunger and those on the brink of it. We need to step up humanitarian assistance, not pull it back.

— David Beasley (@WFPChief) October 7, 2020

Although the president failed to win the prestigious award, there was a Trump connection to this year's winner: Beasley supported Trump during his 2016 election campaign. He served as governor from 1995 to 1999, and was tapped to lead the WFP in 2017, by then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley.

The chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, revealed the laureate at the Nobel Institute in Oslo on Friday, saying that the WFP wanted to "turn the eyes of the world to the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger".

"The World Food Program plays a key role in multilateral cooperation in making food security an instrument of peace," she added, praising the WFP for its role in combating hunger, which was used as a "weapon of war and conflict."

Established in 1961 initially as an experiment at providing food through the UN system, its first development program was launched in Sudan in 1963. Since then, the goal of the WFP has always been to provide relief to the most vulnerable areas in the world.

Last year, the WFP assisted 97 million people last year across 88 countries, which was the largest number since 2012. Every day, the program has 5,600 trucks, 30 ships and nearly 100 planes delivering food and other assistance to those in need. It distributes 15 billion rations per year, according to its website.

World Food Programme
A picture taken on July 30, 2017 shows aid packages from the World Food Programme being delivered in eastern Ghouta, Syria. WFP has been named as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. AMER ALMOHIBANY/Getty Images

Its operations are funded by donations from governments around the world, corporations and private donors. In 2018, the U.S. and the European Commission were the biggest contributors to its last year's funding of $7.5 billion, giving it $2.6 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively.

Although the Nobel Committee does not release a shortlist of contenders, 318 nominees were believed to be under consideration for the award and prize worth 10m Swedish krona ($1.1m)—including 211 individuals and 107 organizations.