Rampant attacks on relief food convoys plague operations in Darfur
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today that it will have to suspend food distributions in Darfur if the security situation does not improve.
WFP said that relentless attacks on truck convoys in Darfur are pushing to the brink the agency’s ability to feed more than 3 million people each month.
While WFP managed to recover three hijacked trucks and four fleet staff yesterday following the latest attack in South Darfur, 69 trucks and 43 drivers remain unaccounted for. Since the beginning of the year, more than 100 vehicles delivering WFP food assistance have been hijacked in Darfur, with many more shot at and robbed. Drivers are refusing to travel along certain routes, significantly slowing food aid deliveries to hungry people.
“Repeated and targeted attacks on food convoys are making it extraordinarily difficult and dangerous for us to feed hungry people,” said Monika Midel, WFP’s Deputy Representative in Sudan, saying that the agency was deeply concerned that the welfare and lives of personnel were being put at increased risk. “Should these attacks continue, the situation will become intolerable -- to the point that we will have to suspend operations in some areas of Darfur.”
WFP’s warning comes in the wake of the decision on 27 August by NGO partner German Agro Action (GAA) to suspend food distribution to 450,000 people in North Darfur because of insecurity.
Since the beginning of the year, WFP has been warning that banditry and attacks have been impeding its operation. The dramatic decline in security has caused a major reduction in food deliveries to Darfur. WFP started cutting rations in May when truck convoys could no longer deliver enough food, affecting three million people. In July, almost 50,000 people received no food assistance at all due to insecurity.
September is the pre-harvest, ‘hunger gap’ period when the rural population normally runs out of food from last year’s harvest.
“We urge other groups who have seized trucks and drivers to release them, unharmed. At stake are thousands of people in Darfur, who are reliant on the food lifeline the relief truck convoys provide,” said Midel.