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Attacks Force UN Agency To Cut Rations In Darfur

Attacks on food trucks force UN agency to cut rations in Darfur

17 April 2008 - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today that it will have to cut rations to the strife-torn Darfur region of Sudan by half because attacks on its trucks are preventing vital relief supplies from getting through.

So far this year 60 WFP-contracted trucks have been hijacked in Darfur - where the agency is feeding over two million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees - with 39 trucks still missing and 26 drivers unaccounted for. One driver was killed in Darfur last month.

WFP's trucks should be delivering 1,800 metric tons of food daily around this time of year to supply warehouses ahead of the rainy season, due to begin next month. However, deliveries have dropped to less than 900 tons per day.

"Attacks on the WFP food pipeline are an attack on the most vulnerable people in Darfur," said the agency's Executive Director, Josette Sheeran.

In March, more than 2.4 million people in Darfur received WFP food assistance, which include cereals, pulses, vegetable oil, sugar and salt.

The number of those requiring assistance is expected to rise to some three million during the rainy season from May to September - also known as the pre-harvest 'hunger gap,' when last year's agricultural stocks are depleted and there is less access to food in the market.

Ms. Sheeran called on all parties to protect the access to food, stressed that with up to three million people depending on WFP for their survival in the upcoming rainy season, keeping the agency's supply line open is "a matter of life and death."

Kenro Oshidari, WFP Representative in Sudan, noted that the Sudanese Government does provide police escorts for convoys on the main routes, "but unfortunately the frequency is not enough to maintain the food pipeline."

"We're appealing to the rebel factions and their commanders who operate in other parts of Darfur to ensure security on the roads and to respect the neutrality of all people involved in the humanitarian effort," he said. "If the security situation on the roads improves, we will be able to restore the ration levels."

ENDS

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