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Cablegate: Humanitarian Agency Drivers Killed; Agencies Watch For

VZCZCXRO6112
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1640 2951535
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221535Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8900
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001640

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, AF/SE NATSIOS
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL SU

SUBJECT: HUMANITARIAN AGENCY DRIVERS KILLED; AGENCIES WATCH FOR
IMPACT ON ABILITY TO DELIVER HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE


1. In two separate incidents, three U.N. World Food Program (WFP)
contracted drivers were killed in the past week. On October 16,
media reported that two drivers were killed in South Darfur while on
their way back to El Obeid after delivering their food supplies.
On October 12, on the road between Nyala and El-Fasher another
driver was killed and 25 sacks of sorghum were taken.

2. Simon Crittle, WFP Communications Director, cited the lack of
UN/NGO identification as a possible underlying contributing factor
in the attacks. He said that the contractor trucks are usually not
identified as delivering WFP food and can easily be mistaken for
private trucks that haul produce and supplies. He told poloff that
most WFP contractors use 15 ton trucks, a variety commonly used on
the poor roads in Darfur, which are hard to distinguish from other
commercial trucks carrying commericial cargo. (Comment: There is
no indication these attacks were motivated by anything other than
general banditry, which has been on the rise along many routes in
Darfur for the past several months. End comment.)

3. Crittle said that WFP uses nearly 1,000 such 15 ton trucks, and
have experienced a number of incidents with them. They range from
simple robbery, vehicle hijackings, theft of the cargo, kidnapping
and, killings. Crittle told poloff that WFP wanted to draw
awareness to the deaths to underscore the insecure environment in
which the humanitarian community is currently operating. He
expressed hope that AMIS would be able to provide improved security,
but acknowledged that they are overstretched. "The roads are full
of trucks and commerce. Robberies and murder probably will continue
given the large numbers of vehicles that travel."

4. USAID reports that at this time there has not been any
discernible impact on US-funded humanitarian assistance programs.
However, donors and partners are closely watching for any possible
effects on their operations as a result of recent attacks. There
are only a limited number of commercial trucking agencies that can
handle the required humanitarian supplies. WFP, UN Joint Logistics
Center (UNJLC) and other aid agencies share many of the same firms.
Should the truckers raise their prices or refuse to drive,
particularly along selected routes, aid agencies may be constrained
in delivering of humanitarian supplies in a timely manner. (Note:
at this time, WFP reports that it has nearly emptied its stocks in
Port Sudan, and deliveries of food aid are moving ahead as
scheduled. In fact, they are looking forward to the next shipments
of US-donated food supplies, which are due to arrive at the end of
November. End note.)

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