In Ethiopia, WFP Worker Killed in Ambush

The World Food Programme's logo on the side of a plane used to deliver humanitarian aid and personnel. An ambush against the agency's staff members in Ethiopia has left one dead, one injured and two missing. Photo by: Jonathan Thompson / WFP

World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran is “deeply saddened” by an ambush against WFP staff members in Ethiopia’s Somali region on Friday (May 13), which left one dead, one injured and two missing.

Farhan Hamsa, a WFP driver, was killed during the incident, according to the United Nations agency. He was travelling with three colleagues for a monitoring mission when the attack happened. 

Hamsa has been serving WFP’s Jijiga suboffice in the Somali Region since 2006. He is survived by his wife and seven children, WFP noted.

“Humanitarian workers need and deserve the protection of all as they seek to protect the vulnerable and save innocent lives,” Sheeran said in a news release. “We call upon the world to join us in condemning such actions as the killing of Farhan. Every day WFP drivers like Farhan deliver life-saving help to the most vulnerable under conditions of great danger and hardship. They are my heroes.”

Voice of America reports that the Ethiopian government and U.N. security agencies have mounted a joint search for the missing pair, whom they believed were kidnapped.

“The local authorities together with WFP and the U.N. system in Ethiopia are doing their utmost to find them as soon as possible, but we do not know how fast these searches are going to progress,” WFP spokeswoman Judith Schuler said May 15, as quoted by VOA.

Meanwhile, the Ogaden National Liberation Front, a rebel group, denied allegations by Bereket Simon, the Ethiopian government’s communications chief, that it was behind the ambush. It attributed the “cold-blooded and cowardly” attack to the Ethiopian security forces, according to Bloomberg, citing an emailed statement from ONLF.

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.

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