- United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia today expressed grave concern at the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the country after two Somali aid workers were killed on Friday, while UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported that one of its transport agents was shot dead on Sunday.
"It is intolerable and incomprehensible that humanitarian workers striving to save lives and alleviate human suffering in one of the most difficult environments in the world are being targeted and killed," Mark Bowden said in a statement.
The two aid workers who died on Friday worked for Somali non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the capital Mogadishu.
"It is also very worrying that the general level of violence in large parts of Somalia has been constantly rising this year and has reached unacceptable levels of civilian casualties," Mr. Bowden said.
In Sunday's incident, militiamen opened fire in the southern town of Buale, killing WFP transport agent in a local dispute. WFP says payments are demanded by militiamen for trucks carrying humanitarian assistance to pass hundreds of checkpoints in South and Central Somalia.
This year only a total of four WFP-contracted drivers have been killed in Somalia.
"We condemn these shootings, and are very concerned that growing insecurity threatens to sabotage the humanitarian response in Somalia," WFP Country Director Peter Goossens said, adding that violence was rising when more than two million people needed assistance because of drought and high food prices.
WFP said today that a plague of kidnappings and attacks on aid workers and members of civil society had broken out in recent weeks. Mr. Goossens said that WFP was committed to operating in Somalia, and was delivering significant amounts of food assistance despite increasing risks. He however also warned that all sides to the conflict had to recognise that they would be responsible for further suffering of innocent people should aid deliveries become impossible.
The UN agency said it needed to double the amount of food assistance in Somalia over the rest of the year to feed an average of 2.4 million people per month, also adding that delivery of food aid by sea is critical and has appealed for naval escorts to aid ships from piracy.
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