Calling Friday’s deadly attack against the United Nations complex in the Nigerian capital “morally reprehensible,” the Deputy Secretary-General has met with survivors of the bombing and pledged that the world body will not be deterred from continuing its work.
Asha-Rose Migiro travelled to Abuja this weekend – along with Gregory Starr, the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security – to see first-hand the devastation caused by the apparent suicide bombing, which has killed or injured scores of people.
Speaking to the press yesterday after visiting the damaged UN House and meeting with the injured at a hospital in Abuja, Ms. Migiro stressed that “this was an attack on a working community that was helping the people of Nigeria.”
She noted that the dead and wounded included cleaners and security guards, humanitarian workers and national Government officials.
“Targeting such people is outrageous and morally reprehensible,” Ms. Migiro said. “Amongst the UN colleagues I saw today in hospital there was a very clear message. They wanted their vital work to continue. For one woman who is a cleaner there is an obvious desire that she will be able to continue her work for her family.
“Such attacks will neither deter us in our work, nor win any new sympathizers to whatever cause might be the motivation.”
The Deputy Secretary-General, who met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to discuss the attack, said the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
“We all want to know exactly what happened, and what can be done in the period ahead to strengthen security.”
She said UN emergency response personnel were providing assistance, working with medical teams and search-and-rescue experts from Nigeria and other countries.
At a meeting with UN staff in Abuja, Ms. Migiro said she felt “absolutely shattered by what I see: the debris, the destruction, the signs of ordinary life devastated by terrorists.”
A UN investigation is under way into the circumstances of the bombing, which has been condemned by both Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and members of the Security Council.
“Nothing in the world is more important than your lives – the lives of our staff members,” Ms. Migiro said. “Protecting you is our first job – our most serious responsibility.”
Hundreds of personnel from 26 different UN agencies and entities were in UN House when the bomber struck on Friday at about 11 a.m. local time.