UN re-assesses security threats in wake of deadly attack in Nigerian capital

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro speaks with one of the injured in the suicide attack on the UN compound in Abuja, Nigeria. Credit: AP/Rebecca Blackwell

30 August 2011 – The United Nations will soon conduct a global threat review in the wake of the deadly attack against the UN compound in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, which has claimed the lives of at least 23 people, according to Government reports.

Eleven of the people confirmed to have died in last Friday’s attack are UN staff, including one international staff member – Ingrid Midtgaard of Norway. Thirty-two others are receiving treatment in hospital.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council today that he has received a briefing from Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro and Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security Gregory Starr, who visited the scene of the attack at the weekend and spoke with survivors.

“What we know is that this attack was the work of a suicide bomber who rammed a sport utility vehicle, at high speed, through the exit gates of the UN compound,” he said.

“The UN House in Abuja, home to 26 agencies and programmes, is a well-built structure, with robust security measures. This attack is therefore cause for a serious re-assessment – not just in Nigeria, and not just in high-threat locations, but worldwide.”

Mr. Ban said a global threat review would begin shortly, separate to the full review of the attack and the security measures in place in Abuja.

“Meanwhile, we are doing everything possible to assist the victims and their families. That will include trauma counselling for those who might need it.”

He stressed that the security of UN staff remained paramount, particularly as the UN is being increasingly targeted by terrorists worldwide.

“We must draw the lessons to be learned from Abuja. And together, we must commit the effort and resources to implement them. Our goal must be to stay, not leave, in difficult security conditions. We must continue to carry out our vital work, not lock ourselves behind fortresses. We must manage risk, not become risk averse.”

Briefing UN Member States at the General Assembly, Mr. Ban said that the attack – for which an extremist Islamist group called Boko Haram has claimed responsibility – appears to be the first of its kind against an international or foreign institution in Nigeria. He stressed that there can be no justification for terrorism anywhere, by anyone, for any reason.

In an interview today Ms. Migiro told the UN News Centre that the scene at the compound was “really heartbreaking,” while adding that despite the terrible losses, the UN will not b deterred.

“The perpetrators must be brought to justice. The work of the United Nations will continue,” she stated. “We’re not going to be deterred from the work that we’re doing…

“Those who are plotting will do all that they can to destruct us, to discourage us from the good work that they are doing, but we will never allow this,” she added.


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