Food relief truck driver killed in Darfur on the eve of ration cuts

Published on 24 April 2008

WFP has announced the killing of a truck driver transporting vital food relief to Darfur, the second such killing in two months.

· The United Nations World Food Programme announced today the killing of a truck driver transporting vital food relief to Darfur, the second such killing in two months.

· Mohammed Makki El Rasheed, 58, was shot and killed on 21 April on a main transport route between North and South Darfur. This follows the killing of driver Mohamed Ali on 24 March, while transporting food in South Darfur.

Convoy

· Mohammed Makki was travelling in a police-escorted convoy when his truck broke down 40 km north of Nyala town. He went to Nyala to get spare parts and returned to fix the vehicle. Attackers shot and killed him and injured a guard who had accompanied him.

· Mohammed Makki was on his first-ever delivery trip to Darfur, working for a WFP contract trucking firm delivering food assistance. He was the father of six children.

· WFP truck convoys are currently delivering only half as much food to Darfur as is needed, because banditry has slowed the turnaround time for trucks. Only 900 metric tons (mt) a day is arriving at WFP warehouses, when deliveries should be 1800 mt a day.

Increased banditry

· As announced on 17 April, due to the increased banditry WFP will be forced to cut the monthly ration in Darfur by 42 per cent of its kilocalorie value. In May, cereals, pulses and sugar will be cut by half, while vegetable oil, salt and high-nutrient corn soya blend will remain at regular ration levels.

· The kilocalorie value of the reduced ration will be equivalent to 1,242 kcal per person/day, compared to the full ration of 2,156kcals per person/day.

· Mitigating factors: blanket feeding for children under five will continue in targeted areas in South and West Darfur and is planned throughout North Darfur where the highest malnutrition rates were reported in 2007. Supplementary and therapeutic feeding are on-going and school feeding will start again as normal when schools reopen in June.

· 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.

Police escorts

· WFP is asking the government to increase the number of police escorts for our convoys, so more food can get through.

· Air lifts are a contingency if things become even more serious and there is no improvement, but air lifts of food supplies are not planned for May.

· Latest statistics in Darfur: 60 WFP contracted trucks and six passenger vehicles have been hijacked since the start of the year, with 39 trucks still missing and 26 drivers unaccounted for. Two drivers have been killed in Darfur. A total 709 mt of food have been stolen.

· The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports total 113 hijackings of humanitarian vehicles (including WFP contracted vehicles), 10 convoys attacked and 46 armed assaults against humanitarian and UN compounds. Seven humanitarian staff have been killed (including two WFP contract drivers), with eight injured. There are almost 14,000 humanitarian workers currently in Darfur.

· In Unity State, southern Sudan, three WFP contracted drivers and one driver's assisted were killed in two separate incidents on 22 March and 7 April.