As the number of hijackings of trucks carrying food for the World Food Programme nears 60 since the start of the year, WFP expressed deep sadness and shock at the killing of three drivers of WFP-contracted trucks in two separate incidents in
We are extremely shocked and saddened by these incidents
WFP Sudan Representative Kenro Oshidari
Mohamed Ali was shot dead and his assistant seriously injured by unidentified armed men on 24 March on the main route to Nyala in South Darfur.
And on 22 March, in southern Sudan, two truck drivers were murdered in the town of Abiemnom in Unity State as they were carrying WFP food to Abyei. Hamed Abdulla Sharif, 45, and Hamed Ibrahim Digel, 56, were stabbed to death by six assailants on a riverbank.
"We are extremely shocked and saddened by these incidents. This situation is completely unacceptable. Drivers who are delivering WFP humanitarian assistance and our contracted trucking companies are facing daily acts of violence," said WFP Sudan Representative Kenro Oshidari.
Two weeks ago, WFP warned that banditry was delaying vital food deliveries, reducing by half the amount of food normally transported into Darfur at this time of year. The turnaround time for food deliveries has been slowed because truckers are unwilling to risk driving on dangerous roads.
"Attacks like this must stop. All parties must recognise that the drivers of humanitarian vehicles and their cargo are serving a neutral humanitarian purpose.
"By attacking humanitarian staff, these assailants are also hurting innocent people who need food assistance," Oshidari added.
The incident in Darfur brings to 56 the number of trucks involved in hijackings this year; 36 trucks remain missing and 24 drivers are unaccounted for.
A further six WFP passenger vehicles have been stolen in Darfur this year. In October 2007, three WFP-contracted drivers were killed while transporting food to Darfur.
Last month, WFP provided a monthly food ration to more than two million conflict-affected people in Darfur. A further 64,000 people could not be reached because of insecurity.
In southern Sudan and the Three Areas of Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, WFP provides food assistance to people returning to their home communities after the signing of a 2005 peace accord that ended a 21-year conflict between the North and South. Attacks on WFP personnel and truck drivers in the South are infrequent, but the region remains volatile.