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Nine staff members killed in Algiers, two found alive, confirms UN official

Nine staff members killed in Algiers, two found alive, confirms UN official

UN flag at half staff
Nine United Nations staff members are among the dozens killed in yesterday’s twin bomb attacks in Algiers, a spokesperson for the world body confirmed today, adding that two others were found alive and removed from the debris, and several others remain missing.

Two car bombs exploded in the Algerian capital on Tuesday morning. The first caused the collapse of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) office, which also housed staff from a number of other UN agencies, and damaged the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), located across the street. The second exploded near the country’s Constitutional Court.

The UN released a list of the nine staff members confirmed to have died and whose families have been notified. They include Hanniche Abel-Rahim of Algeria (International Labour Organization); Nabil Slimani of Algeria (UNHCR); Gene Luna of the Philippines (World Food Programme); Adnane Souilah and Kamel Sait, both of Algeria (UN Population Fund); and Babacar Ndiaye of Senegal (Department of Safety and Security).

In addition, Hind Boukroufa and Djamel Rezzoug of Algeria and Steven Olejas of Denmark, all of whom worked for UNDP, were also killed.

Rescue efforts yesterday helped to remove two UN staff alive from the rubble, and both are now receiving medical treatment, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York.

“There are a number of people who remain missing,” Ms. Okabe added, while noting that “at this point, hopes for finding any more survivors in the rubble have dimmed, and the local authorities have started to use heavy machinery to clear the site.”

According to figures released yesterday, the UN has a total of 40 international staff in Algeria, including 19 international staff based there and an additional 21 that are there temporarily, as well as about 115 local UN staff in the capital.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier today paid tribute to the victims, stressing that “their sacrifice cannot and shall not be forgotten… This was a despicable strike against individuals serving humanity’s highest ideals under the UN banner.”

Mr. Ban has sent UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis, as well as top officials from his Executive Office and DSS, to Algiers to determine how best to aid those injured in the attack and the families of the victims.

In a statement issued today, Mr. Dervis said that “the situation in Algiers remains fluid and it is possible that additional UNDP staff remain unaccounted for.

“I do hope that beyond the words of condemnation, the international community and Member States will realize that concrete actions of support for the United Nations and for development and humanitarian workers are of the utmost importance,” he added.

Two stress counsellors are also arriving in the country today to assist those who have been traumatized by the bombing, Ms. Okabe said.