Gunmen Kill WFP Food Monitor in Southern Somalia

Published on 06 January 2009

The Executive Director of WFP condemned the killing, today, by gunmen of one of the agency’s staff members in southern Somalia, and urged all parties to the worsening conflict there to protect humanitarian workers.

Three masked gunmen shot and killed 44-year-old Somali national Ibrahim Hussein Duale, while he was monitoring school feeding in a WFP-supported school in Yubsan village six kilometres from the Gedo region capital of Garbahare. Witnesses say the gunmen approached him while he was seated, ordered him to stand up and then shot him.

“We call on all parties to allow us to do our job – providing food to feed the hungry at this critical time,” said WFP Executive Director, Josette Sheeran. “We are an impartial international organization and we need a minimum of security to serve the Somali people.”

Duale leaves a wife and five children. He joined WFP in 2006 as a food monitor in Gedo region, which borders on Kenya and Ethiopia. He is the third WFP staff member killed in Somalia since August 2008. Five WFP-contracted transport staff were killed in Somalia in 2008.

“This was a shocking attack on one of our staff while he was doing his job,” Sheeran added. “Ibrahim was a good, honest man and worked extremely hard to assist those in need. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues.”

Somalia is one of the most dangerous places in the world. Insecurity is rising as Ethiopian troops withdraw from the country. A total of 3.25 million people – or 43 percent of the entire population – need humanitarian assistance. Some 3.1 million of them need food assistance.

Despite the growing insecurity, WFP has been feeding more than 1.5 million people every month in Somalia. Ninety percent of WFP food assistance for Somalia arrives by sea on ships currently escorted by European Union naval vessels to protect them from piracy.

WFP shipped some 260,000 metric tons of food to Somalia in 2008; almost four times the amount in 2007, three times what was shipped in 2006 and eight times the amount in 2005.