9 May 2008
GUNMEN KILL WFP HEAD OF SUB-OFFICE IN NORTHWESTERN KENYA
LOKICHOGGIO, Kenya – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today that unidentified gunmen shot dead the head of WFP’s office in the northwestern Kenyan town of Lokichoggio — in the first killing of a WFP aid worker in what has been a major relief hub for southern Sudan.
Silence Chirara, coordinator of WFP’s logistics operation for southern Sudan, was ambushed late on Wednesday by unidentified gunmen who fired AK-47 assault rifles 100 metres from the main gate of the UN camp.
After coming under attack, Chirara, 37, drove on and his clearly marked UN vehicle hit a shipping container near the gate. He was later pronounced dead at a clinic. His vehicle was hit by seven AK-47 bullets on the car’s left-hand side. The gunmen escaped.
“We are all shocked at this savage killing of Silence Chirara and condemn it in the strongest terms. UN Security and the Kenyan police are investigating this terrible crime,” said Kenro Oshidari, WFP Representative in Sudan, who flew to Lokichoggio on Thursday. The body of Chirara, a Zimbabwean national, was flown on Thursday to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.
“In all the places that Silence served, he was an incredible source of comfort and help to his colleagues. He was a valued Logistics Officer known to never step away from a challenge. This is a moment of great sorrow, for Silence’s family, especially his wife and two children, friends and those at WFP who worked side-by-side with him over the years,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.
Chirara, who joined WFP in 1996, had worked in Iraq, Guinea Bissau, Zimbabwe and Indonesia. He started working in Lokichoggio in March 2006.
During the civil war between North and South Sudan, WFP planes operating from Lokichoggio airdropped food to millions of people in desperate need across southern Sudan. Since the war ended in 2005, WFP reduced its air operations as roads were repaired but Lokichoggio remained an important relief hub and access route for aircraft and trucks delivering assistance into Sudan.
# # #
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency: in 2007, WFP fed 86 million people in 80 countries.