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Uganda: UN condemns deadly ambush against aid convoy

Uganda: UN condemns deadly ambush against aid convoy

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today condemned a deadly ambush against one of its food convoys, which forced the agency to suspend deliveries to over 100,000 people who need outside aid to survive.

One person was killed when armed men hidden in trees opened fire on the convoy of eight commercial trucks, clearly marked with WFP flags, on Saturday morning. The attackers were repulsed during an exchange of fire with the Ugandan army escorting the convoy.

The convoy was eventually able to proceed to a nearby town and no food was stolen, but the aid has not been sent to the locations farther within the district for fear of further attacks, according to WFP.

"It is totally unacceptable that humanitarian aid would be the target of such attacks," said WFP's Country Director, Ken Davies. "Thousands of displaced and very hungry people depend on our assistance, but we cannot deliver it unless it is safe enough to do so."

As a result of the incident, WFP has decided to suspend its activities within Kitgum and Pader districts until further notice. Since July, the agency has delivered over 8,000 tons of food to the 500,000 people displaced in the three northern districts of Gulu, Kitgum and Pader. The current suspension will leave about 120,000 people cut off from food aid.

The agency appealed to all parties to guarantee safe humanitarian access within northern Uganda so that live-saving assistance will reach the displaced populations there.

"These people, mainly women and children, have lost their harvest, their homes, and almost everything they own as a result of the current insecurity," said Mr. Davies. "We are extremely concerned with the future of these women and children if insecurity continues to prevent us from providing urgently required assistance."

In the northern areas of Uganda, WFP is assisting over 500,000 victims of the conflict between the Government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army. The agency also provides assistance to over 100,000 Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda, including 30,000 people recently displaced by LRA attacks.