UN food agency mourns death of aid worker in Algiers bombing

12 December 2007 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today mourned the loss of a staff member who was among those killed yesterday when a car bomb exploded near the Organization’s offices in Algiers.

Gene Luna, 48, a Philippine national, joined the agency in Afghanistan as a finance officer five years ago and had been transferred to Algiers only last week.

Expressing her condolences to Ms. Luna’s loved ones, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said “we have lost a dedicated member of our WFP family, as well as many others who served to help those in need.”

Ms. Sheeran joined UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and others in condemning the twin bombings which struck government buildings as well as UN offices in the Algerian capital. The blasts reportedly killed dozens including at least 12 UN staff members.

“I am outraged and saddened at this senseless act of violence against those helping the world’s most vulnerable,” she said.

The Executive Director also telephoned Lynda Matougui, another WFP staff member who was injured in the blast. She said everything possible would be done to help Ms. Matougui, who was pulled out of the rubble and is being evacuated today for medical treatment.

WFP said in a news release that the third floor of the UN building housing its offices was completely destroyed. However, most of the staff members were outside the office on a training course and therefore escaped the attack.

Ms. Sheeran said that despite the many security measures that WFP and other UN agencies have taken, “this tragedy was a strong reminder of the risks that humanitarian workers take to help the poor and the hungry.”

Mr. Ban has dispatched several top aides to Algiers to investigate the bombing. “We will take every measure to ensure the safety of our staff, in Algeria and elsewhere, beginning with an immediate review of our security precautions and policies,” he pledged in the wake of the attacks.

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