Staff at UN Headquarters march in memory of fallen colleagues in Algiers
Seventeen UN staff members lost their lives when a car bomb destroyed the offices of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and damaged those of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Algerian capital. A second car bomb exploded near a court building.
Having just returned from Algiers, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told staff at UN Headquarters that his visit to the attack site and his meetings with the families of the victims and the injured were “profoundly emotional and heartbreaking.”
At the same time, he was “humbled” by the courage and dignity of the people he met, including the father of a brave Algerian security guard who was killed when he threw himself at the oncoming suicide truck, and a young UN staffer who, after being thrown to the ground by the blast, spent hours digging through the rubble searching for survivors.
“Above all, the experience strengthened my resolve to do everything in my power to improve the security of our staff,” Mr. Ban said, noting that he will soon present a proposal for a review of UN security worldwide. He will also push for implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, adopted by all 192 Member States last year.
Noting the need to “ensure that the UN family takes care of its own,” Mr. Ban said he has asked the Resident Coordinator in Algiers to distribute solidarity payments to families of the fallen and to those injured.
The Secretary-General brought back to New York the tattered flag that had flown outside the UN offices in Algiers at the time of the attack.
“Torn and bruised, but still proud and unbowed, this flag symbolizes the sacrifice of our colleagues, and our determination to persevere,” he stated. “Let us honour this flag and the memory of our fallen friends by redoubling our efforts for peace and security, development and human rights around the world.”
UN staff that lost their lives in the attack include Hind Boukroufa, Djamel Rezzoug, Saadia Boucelham, Samia Hammoutene, Chadli Hamza and Mohamed Khelladi of Algeria, as well as Steven Olejas of Denmark, all of whom worked for UNDP.
Algerians Adnane Souilah, Kamel Sait and Mustapha Benbara (UN Population Fund); Hanniche Abel-Rahim (International Labour Organization); Nabil Slimani and Karim Bentebal (UNHCR); Hakim Si Larbi (Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS); and Mohamed Laseli (UN Industrial Development Organization) were also killed, as were Gene Luna of the Philippines (World Food Programme); and Babacar Ndiaye of Senegal (Department of Safety and Security).
The Algiers bombing is not the first time the UN has been attacked by terrorists. A bomb destroyed the world body’s Baghdad headquarters in August 2003, killing 22 people, including top envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.