24 April 2008 The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is urging the Government of Sudan and all parties on the ground to ensure the safety of aid workers after one of its drivers was shot dead while delivering vital food relief to Darfur, the second such killing in two months.
The latest incident comes days after the agency announced it will have to cut food rations to the strife-torn Sudanese region by half because attacks on its trucks are preventing critical relief supplies from getting through.
Mohammed Makki El Rasheed, 58 was killed on 21 April while travelling on a main transport route between North and South Darfur. The father of six was on his first-ever delivery trip to Darfur, where WFP is feeding over two million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees.
“WFP is calling on all rebel groups and their commanders on the ground to ensure safety along the roads where they operate, so that humanitarian food relief can arrive to those who need it,” according to an update issued by the agency.
It is also asking the Government to increase the number of police escorts for WFP convoys, so more food can get through.
So far this year 60 WFP-contracted trucks have been hijacked in Darfur, with 39 trucks still missing and 26 drivers unaccounted for. Another driver was killed while transporting food in South Darfur on 24 March.
The attacks have meant that WFP deliveries have dropped to less than 900 tons per day. Normally, around this time of year, the agency's trucks should be delivering 1,800 metric tons of food daily to supply warehouses ahead of the rainy season, due to begin next month.
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