September 30, 2012 (WAU) - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) on Sunday “vehemently” rejected a demand by Warrap state governor Nyandeng Malek, calling on the humanitarian agency to dismiss one of its staff members, allegedly for embarrassing her while boarding a flight to the state.
- Warrap state governor, Nyandeng Malek (ST)
“We have not yet received the letter. We just saw a press release. So we cannot act on media reports. Until we are officially served with the document from the ministry of humanitarian affairs and disaster management, we will make not any statement,” a senior relief worker working for the agency who requested anonymity told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
He also said that he does no reason why the agency should dismiss the staff member without establishing the actual cause of the dispute that led to suspension of the operations in the area.
The WFP was reacting to a release by the Warrap state government explaining that the decision to suspend operations in the state was taken by the state administration and that it demands the immediate dismissal of the staff member alleged to have embarrassed the governor.
This comes following a report that Malek on 26 September exchanged “bitter” words with WFP pilot over a routine security check and their failure to upgrade her seat on the flight.
WFP said it suspended operations, while state authorities claimed responsibility for the decision leading to the suspension of the relief activities, arguing it demands justification from airport authorities for the incident. Information about who took the decision remains unclear and Sudan Tribune has not been able to independently verify the claims.
Malek, in a release from her office, claimed a WFP flight attendant she identified as Kenyan national, Ms. Elizabeth, embarrassed her while boarding a flight to the state at Juba International Airport, resulting to cancellation of her trip.
The release further explained that it was the state cabinet meeting which decided to stop flights to Kuacjok until the agency and Juba International Airport security provide justification for what it described as the “mischievous incident”.
The state government demands an immediate investigation into the incident; official apologies to the state government and governor; commitment to avoid the incident recurring; and dismissal of the staff involved. While the letter denied that the governor tried to evade a routine security check.
“This mistrust and lack of esteem for national figures depicts a terrible future for the entire WFP unless it eliminates insubordinate officials in services. We call upon WFP administration to urgently correct this flaw”, the letter adds in part.
A resident of Warrap state, Kuol Madut Deng, said “this governor is not only failing to deliver services but she is also creating problems to our national government.”
The needs of the people of Warrap state are currently acute. According to the US Agency for International Development September report in Warrap state “crisis levels of food insecurity persist,” due to recent flooding and an influx of displaced people.