- Gunmen have murdered the fourth U.N.'s World Food Programme truck driver carrying relief food packages in southern Somalia, WFP official said confirmed today.
WFP said statement issued in Nairobi today said driver Ahmed Saalim was part of a convoy of WFP-contracted trucks carrying 602 metric tons of WFP food from Mogadishu to Bay and Bakool regions.
"WFP food is reaching many people but our drivers are daily risking their lives to deliver," Peter Goossens, WFP Somalia country director, said in a statement. "We send our condolences to the family and appeal for these killings to stop."
He added that Somalia is becoming increasingly dangerous at the same time as the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has been on the rise.
Fighting between Somali transitional government and Islamist insurgents has triggered a humanitarian crisis in Somalia that aid workers say may be the worst in Africa as more aid workers are being killed.
Humanitarian workers view Somalia’s food crisis as one of the worst in the world, with access roads to travel throughout the country has become increasingly dangerous and time-consuming leading to delayed food distribution.
Somalia's last severe famine was from 1991 to 1993 which swept through the nation, devastating crops, killing between 240,000 and 280,000 people and displacing up to 2 million, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The continual armed conflicts in central and southern Somalia drought and high inflation on food and fuel prices have aggravated the situation, and a growing percentage of the population has become dependent on humanitarian aid.
WFP said experts fear the number of Somalis needing food aid could reach 3.5 million people later this year - nearly half the country's population.
WFP has to double tonnage of food assistance it brings into Somalia to feed an average of 2.4 million people per month for the rest of the year, but said it urgently needs government to provide naval escorts for ships loaded with WFP food to protect them especially from piracy attacks.
Somalia's transitional administration was formed in 2004 with the help of the United Nations, but it has failed to assert real control. After Islamic militants seized control of Mogadishu and most of southern Somalia, the government called in troops from Ethiopia in December 2006 to oust them.
At least a million people have been uprooted by violence since early last year, and their plight has been compounded by record high food prices, hyper-inflation and drought.
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