A SUDANESE DRIVER for the World Food Programme has been shot dead in war-torn South Kordofan state, the UN agency said today, as officials called for a ceasefire to allow wider aid access.
The UN has described a worsening humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and nearby Blue Nile but has been severely restricted in its movement.
WFP spokeswoman Amor Almagro told AFP:
Our driver was killed yesterday in an armed attack in an area some 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Kadugli.
Jamal Al Fadil Farag Allah, married with five children, is the first WFP employee to be killed in Sudan, she said. “He was driving fellow staff member Saad Yousif when their vehicle was attacked by two unknown assailants.”
They were on a main road in a marked UN vehicle on official business, she added. Yousif was wounded and was to be airlifted to Khartoum later on Sunday.
More than 200,000 refugees have fled a worsening humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and nearby Blue Nile states since fighting between government and rebels from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) began in June last year, the United Nations says.
Ethnic minority insurgents of the SPLM-N fought alongside southern rebels during Sudan’s 22-year civil war, which ended in a 2005 peace deal and South Sudan’s independence in July last year.
A government negotiator, Kamal Obeid, suggested SPLM-N was behind the WFP attack, saying “those groups are not serious about having peace.”
But a rebel spokesman said the main road where the shooting happened should have been under government control.
Khartoum has cited security concerns in tightly restricting the operations of foreign relief agencies in the war zone.
After African Union-led talks in Ethiopia, AU mediator Thabo Mbeki on Saturday announced an agreement between Sudan, the United Nations, the AU and the Arab League to allow for humanitarian access in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Obeid, who headed Sudan’s negotiating team, told reporters that Khartoum agreed to allow the UN, AU and Arab League to work alongside it to assess humanitarian needs and then jointly deliver aid.
The team which delivers the aid has to be approved by the government of Sudan. And the delivery of aid requires a cessation of aggression in specific areas, for a length of time.
A memorandum of understanding will be signed this week, Obeid said.
The rebels issued a copy of what they say is a memorandum already signed with the UN, AU and Arab League to allow aid into SPLM-N zones.
It says SPLM-N agrees on an immediate one-month cessation of hostilities to allow the aid operation, which it cautions “is dependent on the consent of the GoS (government) on access to the SPLM-N controlled areas.”
The European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the aid deal “needs to be accompanied by a cessation of hostilities and political negotiations” between Khartoum and the SPLM-N.
The WFP worker’s death came two days after armed men in another part of the country spent about 12 hours looting and ransacking a WFP compound, Almagro said.
The incident began at about mid-day on Thursday and continued until early Friday at the compound in Kutum town in North Darfur, she said.