WFP driver killed by militiamen in central Somalia

Published on 05 August 2008

The World Food Programme strongly condemned the killing of a WFP-contracted truck driver who was shot yesterday at a checkpoint in central Somalia.

The World Food Programme strongly condemned the killing of a WFP-contracted truck driver who was shot yesterday at a checkpoint in central Somalia.

The incident occurred yesterday when a convoy of 12 WFP-contracted trucks, loaded with food, was stopped by militiamen demanding money at an illegal checkpoint, 30 kilometres north of Galkayo in Mudug region. A militiaman opened fire on the trucks, and shot one of the drivers who later died in hospital. The 275 metric tons of WFP food aboard the trucks was not looted.

“We condemn this senseless killing and once again, urge all parties to ensure the safe passage of humanitarian staff and cargo across the country,” said WFP Somalia Country Director, Peter Goossens. “Our condolences go to the family of the driver; he is the second convoy driver to be killed in Somalia this year,” said Goossens.

On 13 February, the leader of a convoy of WFP-contracted trucks was shot dead by a militiaman in southern Somalia. While the security situation in many parts of Somalia remains precarious, nutrition indicators across Somalia are rising to alarming levels. Acute malnutrition among young children in some areas, including the Central Region, the Shabelles, Hiran and the southern Nugal region in Puntland, has reached 17 percent – well above the emergency threshold.

The number of people WFP is aiming to feed in Somalia is rising dramatically from 1.4 million because of increasing needs and after WFP this month entered into a partnership with the non-governmental organization, CARE International, to feed an additional 700,000 people in central Somalia, between June and August.

The central region’s food assistance needs are normally covered entirely by CARE. This month, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Security Analysis Unit (FSAU) categorized the region as a humanitarian emergency because of drought. “The central region has tipped into a major humanitarian crisis, and we are partnering with CARE to help deliver food to everyone who needs it,” Goossens said.

The region has been particularly hard hit by civil unrest, coupled with a recent increase in major security incidents. In Mogadishu, the Somali capital, food riots because of rising prices erupted this week. Angry residents stoned shops and cars and set tyres ablaze on Monday and Tuesday in protest at shopkeepers’ refusal to accept Somali shilling banknotes and their demand to be paid in U.S. dollars or newer Somali notes. Cereal prices have soared by up to 375 percent in Somalia in the last year and are now at historic highs. The urban poor are cutting down on the food they buy, changing to cheaper cereals and reducing the number of meals. Somalia normally imports 60 percent of its food needs.