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World Food Programme officer dies in Syria

UN World Food Programme officer Ayman Omar passed away in Syria.
UN World Food Programme officer Ayman Omar passed away in Syria.
World Food Programme

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said yesterday that one of its officers had died in Syria. Ayman Omar, head of security in Syria and the Middle East, was killed in a road accident on Monday. He had just completed a mission to Aleppo. Ayman was 36 years old.

WFP, as the largest hunger relief organization, works in the world's most dangerous places. Ayman was in charge of security for one of the largest and most dangerous operations in WFP's history.

Deliveries of food constantly have to go through the conflict zones of Syria's civil war. Many times roads are blocked. In an effort to feed 4 million people trapped by the fighting, WFP has to constantly work around the violence.

Since June of 2012, Ayman had been placed in charge of security for WFP Syria. Trying to keep his colleagues safe, while maintaining a pipeline of food to war victims, was a daily challenge.

Ayman was a very well-respected member of the UN food agency. WFP's director Ertharin Cousin said yesterday,

Ayman was the embodiment of the humanitarian commitment in Syria. He was a brave and caring friend and colleague who had a deep sense of responsibility for the safety of everyone -- our beneficiaries and the people with whom he worked. It was in a very large part thanks to Ayman’s leadership that WFP was able to provide food assistance to people in very difficult locations. He also ensured that our communications team was able to get the message out about the immense needs of the people and work WFP performs in Syria. Ayman was truly a humanitarian hero.”

Ayman had been with WFP since 2009, working at their regional office in Cairo. Prior to that, he had worked with the UN in Haiti and also as a police officer in Egypt. While with WFP, Ayman also served with the humanitarian mission to Libya. He is survived by his mother, daughter, brother, sister-in-law and nephews.