A rash of banditry is threatening food supplies to
internally-displaced people in the conflict-torn western Sudanese
region of Darfur, raising the possibility that rations will have to
be cut, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) said
So far this year, bandits have stolen 22 WFP-contracted trucks
and abducted their drivers, the world aid organization said in a
statement, noting that 18 drivers were still missing.
"We're extremely worried about the impact on the vulnerable
people of Darfur," said WFP Representative Kenro Oshidari, adding
that WFP was also concerned about the fate of the missing
"Our main trucking companies now refuse to send in more vehicles
because of this upsurge in banditry and therefore we have no one to
deliver about half our monthly food relief requirement. If the
situation continues, we'll be forced to cut rations in parts of
Darfur by mid-February," Oshidari said.
Attacks on trucks carrying WFP supplies, abductions of drivers
and trucks, looting of WFP supplies and drivers' personal property
and beatings of WFP-contracted drivers to intimidate them have
increased in recent months.
The WFP urged the Sudanese authorities to ensure the safety of
main routes in Darfur.
From September to December 2007 a total of 13 WFP contract
trucks were stolen or attacked. Of these, three drivers were
killed, three others escaped and a further 7 drivers were released.
All but three of the trucks have been recovered.
In December, the WFP fed 2.1 million conflict-affected people in
Darfur, most of them internally-displaced people in camps,
according to the organization.
The transport companies currently refuse to send their trucks
back into Darfur, which normally deliver between 15,000 and 20,000
tons per month.
"Without these deliveries, WFP faces a rapid depletion of stocks
and the inability to pre-position food ahead of the rainy season,
which is due to start in May," Oshidari said.
The WFP is working out what form ration cuts might take, where,
and how many people would be affected if the banditry
In 2008, the WFP plans to feed up to 5.6 million people in Sudan
on a budget of 697 million US dollars.
The monthly food ration in Darfur includes cereals,
high-nutrition corn-soya blend, pulses, vegetable oil, sugar and
salt and provides a total of 2,100 kilocalories per person per
(Xinhua News Agency January 24, 2008)