United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Algiers from Paris with a small delegation early on Tuesday, 18 December. He was welcomed at the airport by Algeria’s Foreign Minister, Mourad Medelci, and made brief comments to the Algerian State media on the reasons for his visit.
He was then driven to the site of the 11 December terrorist bomb attack on the United Nations offices, which killed 17 staff members. After visiting the site, the Secretary-General had an emotional meeting with the families of the victims, survivors and United Nations staff in Algiers, telling them: “Since Tuesday last week, you have been on my mind every hour of every day.”
The Secretary-General was visibly moved, bursting into tears and stopping halfway through his prepared remarks, too shaken to continue. Recovering his composure after a long interlude, during which he hugged and spoke with each member of the audience, the Secretary-General went on to pledge United Nations support to survivors and the relatives of the victims, particularly the children. At the end of the meeting, he was given the tattered flag that had flown outside the United Nations offices, and he carried it back with him to New York as a symbol of the United Nations determination to continue its work in Algeria.
The Secretary-General then met with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, with whom he discussed issues related to the security of United Nations staff in Algeria. They also talked about counter-terrorism, migration, the Middle East, Darfur, climate change, the Millennium Development Goals and Western Sahara.
Before leaving Algeria, the Secretary-General held a press conference at the airport, in which he called terrorism a crime against humanity and called on Member States to agree on a plan of action against terrorism, including an agreed definition of terrorism.