WFP driver killed in ambush in Uganda's Karamoja region

Kampala, 29 May 2007 - The United Nations World Food Programme said today that gunmen ambushed a WFP convoy in the Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda, killing a WFP driver and forcing the agency to suspend temporarily its operations in support of half-a-million drought affected people in the region.

"WFP has no choice but to temporarily suspend our activities in Karamoja until security is improved." - WFP Country Director Tesema Negash

Richard Achuka, 41, was shot in the neck and shoulder and died yesterday when the gunmen attacked a convoy of four WFP trucks in Kotido District as they returned from delivering food to schools and other sites in neighbouring Kaabong District. Achuka was driving the lead truck in the convoy, which was escorted by the Uganda People's Defence Forces.

The attackers fled as the escorting soldiers and three other trucks arrived at the ambush site.


"WFP condemns this vicious attack on a clearly marked WFP humanitarian convoy in the strongest terms and demands that the killers be pursued and brought to justice," said WFP Country Director Tesema Negash, who visited the site of the ambush today.

"WFP has no choice but to temporarily suspend our activities in Karamoja until security is improved."

"WFP appreciates the humanitarian implications of this suspension and we will take action as soon as possible to ensure the people for whom WFP is working in Karamoja don't suffer."

"WFP sends its deepest condolences to Richard's family. Richard joined WFP in 2001 and was from Karamoja himself," Negash added.

It was the first killing of a WFP staff member in Uganda since a driver was killed in ambush in Arua District in the Northwest in July 1998.


In January, WFP started distributions of food assistance to a total of 500,000 people in Karamoja, hit by a third drought in six years. Karamoja is the poorest region in Uganda and has a single rainy season from June to August.

WFP rations are designed to provide 50 percent of the minimum daily energy requirement of 2,100 kilocalories and bridge the gap between families' basic food needs and what they can produce themselves or buy in markets.

Another 200,000 people in Karamoja currently receive WFP assistance through other projects such as food for education, food for assets and food for health, meaning that at least 70 percent of the region's entire population benefits from WFP food for emergency relief or development.

Malnutrition is the leading cause of mortality in the semi-arid region, which consists of five districts and suffers from the highest rates of severe and moderate malnutrition in the country.