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UNAMID reports two attacks on aid workers in Darfur

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September 5, 2008 (EL-FASHER) — Darfur hybrid peacekeeping mission reported two attacks against aid workers in southern Darfur after two months of lull.

The UNAMID reported today that unidentified gunmen attacked three UNICEF vehicles while returning from a visit at Yara, 50 km north of Nyala, capital of South Darfur state.

"On receipt of information, UNAMID patrol was deployed by Nigerian Battalion 2 to rescue the members." The Hybrid operation said in its daily briefing.

The peacekeepers rescued two of the vehicles as the third managed to reach Nyala with its passengers having been looted of their properties left unharmed.

The attacked humanitarian convoy included a delegation from Khartoum together with UNICEF Head of office- Nyala.

Carjacking and harassment of drivers of trucks carrying supplies and humanitarian workers increased at the beginning of this year, hampering the operations of many national and international NGOs and UN agencies in Darfur.

Attacks on World Food Programme food convoys have forced a cut in rations to millions in Darfur by almost half since May. They have plenty of food in the warehouses but massively deteriorated security, banditry, hijackings and kidnappings makes it simply too dangerous to deliver.

In another development, the joint peacekeeping mission reported that on 3 September 2008, a World Food Programme (WFP) Mobile Truck was carjacked in the vicinity of Moraya, 55 km northern-west of Nyala, Sector South.

According to the tracking device, the vehicle was heading into the general direction of Jebel Marra, Sector South.

The drivers onboard were robbed of their money and mobile phones and the whereabouts of the WFP staff members and the vehicle are unknown.

The WFP planned this year to feed 1.2 million displaced but since May rations of cereals, pulses and sugar have been cut by 50 percent, and the daily kilo calorie allowance per person slashed by 40 percent from 2,156 to 1,242.

UN reports mention that most of these attacks are carried out by militias backed by Sudanese government. Rebels and IDPs say the assailants mean to starve the displaced people and the refugees and kill them.

However earlier last August troops of the former rebel SLM-Minawi harassed and threatened MSF mission in North Darfur at Tawila and Shangil Tobaya, and forced it to withdraw its team from these areas.

Last May Ted Chaiban, head of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said with malnutrition rates already high, August and September, traditionally bad months for hunger, could see a massive hike in the numbers of malnourished Darfuris. On reduced rations, Darfuris will be more vulnerable to disease.

Some 17,000 aid workers are deployed in Sudan’s arid western region, where international experts estimate at least 300,000 people have died and 2.5 million been driven by their homes since the beginning of 2003 rebellion.

(ST)

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