Fifth WFP-contracted transport staff member killed in Somalia

Published on 15 July 2008

Gunmen killed an agent for a WFP-contracted transport company amid growing insecurity in southern and central Somalia, WFP said. He was the fifth staff member of a WFP-contracted trucking company killed in Somalia this year.

Gunmen killed an agent for a WFP-contracted transport company amid growing insecurity in southern and central Somalia, WFP said. He was the fifth staff member of a WFP-contracted trucking company killed in Somalia this year.

The killing on Sunday followed the shooting by three unidentified gunmen of a senior member of the Somali non-governmental organization SARDO during a distribution on Friday of WFP food to thousands of displaced people in a camp close to the capital Mogadishu. The NGO official was shot in the face and taken to a hospital in Mogadishu.

We condemn these shootings, and are very concerned that growing insecurity threatens to sabotage the humanitarian response in Somalia

Peter Goossens, WFP Country Director in Somalia

Hundreds of checkpoints

In Sunday’s incident, militiamen opened fire in the southern town of Buale and killed the transport agent in a local dispute. Payments are demanded by militiamen for trucks carrying humanitarian assistance to pass the hundreds of checkpoints in South and Central Somalia.

“We condemn these shootings, and are very concerned that growing insecurity threatens to sabotage the humanitarian response in Somalia,” said WFP Country Director Peter Goossens, adding that violence was rising when more than 2 million people need assistance because of drought and high food prices. A plague of kidnappings and attacks on aid workers and members of civil society has broken out in recent weeks.

Minimum level of security

He said that WFP was committed to operating in Somalia, and was delivering significant amounts of food assistance despite increasing risks. However, Goossens warned that all sides to the conflict must recognise the minimum level of security required for aid operations and that they would be responsible for people’s suffering should aid deliveries become impossible.

A total of four WFP–contracted drivers have been killed in Somalia so far this year.

Doubling food assistance

Over the rest of the year, WFP must double the amount of food assistance being delivered to Somalia, to feed an average of 2.4 million people per month. Delivery of food aid by sea is critical, and WFP has made urgent appeals for naval escorts to protect ships loaded with WFP food from piracy.