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Attacks on Darfur aid workers jeopardizing basic relief efforts, says UN official

26 March 2008 – Attacks against aid workers in western Sudan have reached unprecedented levels, jeopardizing vital relief operations in the war-wracked Darfur region, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator said today.

In a statement released in Khartoum by her office, Ameerah Haq said the humanitarian community operating in Sudan condemned all acts of violence taking place in Darfur, where rebels have been fighting Government forces and allied militia since 2003.

On Monday Mohamed Ali, a driver contracted by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), was shot dead and his assistant was seriously injured by unidentified assailants while travelling on the main route into Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state.

That attack followed the deadly stabbing of two other WFP-contracted drivers on the weekend in Unity state in southern Sudan, and is only the latest in a string of hijackings, abductions and killings in the country and particularly in Darfur.

Ms. Haq’s office said in the statement that the humanitarian community called for an end to all attacks, the immediate release of those who have been abducted and no impunity for those people who target aid workers anywhere in Sudan.

Yesterday WFP’s representative in Sudan, Kenro Oshidari, deplored the latest attacks and warned that the agency’s contracted trucking companies and drivers were facing daily acts of violence.

More than 200,000 people have been killed in the past five years in Darfur and at least 2.2 million others forced to flee their homes because of the fighting, the inter-tribal clashes and the attacks by bandits.

Earlier this year a hybrid UN-African Union peacekeeping mission known as UNAMID was deployed to try to quell the suffering and violence but so far only about 9,000 uniformed personnel are in place, well below the 26,000 expected when the operation reaches full capacity.



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