UN food delivery to Darfur threatened as carjackings become rampant
(dpa) - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said Monday it is facing an "unprecedented" situation in Sudan's troubled Darfur region, with carjackings hindering food deliveries to some 2 million people.
WFP said some 37 of its trucks are missing and 23 drivers are unaccounted for as attacks by bandits against humanitarian workers have stepped up in the lawless province.
Beyond the carjackings, WFP said donations for its air operations have yet to come through, meaning it may have to suspend its flight service at a time when using Darfur's roads has become more volatile.
"This is an unprecedented situation," said Kenro Oshidari, WFP's representative in Sudan.
"With a recent upsurge in insecurity in West Darfur and increased banditry on the roads throughout the region, the air operation is more important than ever. If it shut down, even for a brief period, vital relief would be denied to vulnerable civilians in Darfur," Oshidari said.
An average of 8,000 aid workers use WFP's flights per month, which cost 77 million dollars per year to operate.
The past few months has seen a flare-up of violence in parts of Darfur, where government-backed militias have battled rebels who have demanded development for the impoverished region, leaving more than 200,000 people dead in five years of fighting.
Humanitarian workers have often complained they struggle to reach those in need because of the ongoing violence which sometimes directly affects the organizations.