Activities of Secretary-General in United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, 1-2 November

2 November 2009

Activities of Secretary-General in United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, 1-2 November

Following the attack on a Kabul guesthouse on 28 October in which five United Nations staff members were killed and others were injured, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon travelled to the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan to meet with victims.

On Sunday, 1 November, in Dubai, the Secretary-General visited staff members who had been relocated there to recover after the blast.  He had a warm and frank discussion with 14 survivors and their trauma counsellor.  The Secretary-General told them how much admiration he has for them and how proud he is of their bravery and courage.  He offered his sympathy over what they had gone through, but reaffirmed that they should not be deterred from the noble work of assisting the people of Afghanistan.  He briefed them about the efforts being made to ensure the security and safety of the staff, including his strong appeal to Member States for an increase in funding in that area.

The Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security, Gregory Starr, accompanied the Secretary-General and was to stay in the region to examine safety and security issues in a more concrete way.

On Monday, the Secretary-General made a previously unannounced visit to Kabul.  He met there with United Nations staff, with his Special Representative and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Kai Eide, and with heads of United Nations agencies and security officials.

Speaking to reporters, he expressed his appreciation for the work of UN staff in Afghanistan, adding, “My main goal this time was to insist that everything be done to ensure the security of all staff, Afghan and international.  We have suffered a grievous attack, but our work will continue.”

The Secretary-General said that, despite speculation whether the United Nations would pull out of Afghanistan or Pakistan, “we will not be deterred”.

He also met on Monday with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and President Hamid Karzai to assure them and the Afghan people of the continuing support of the United Nations towards the development of the country and the humanitarian assistance that the United Nations provides to millions of Afghans everyday.  He noted that President Karzai assured him once more that security for UNAMA would be strengthened.

The Secretary-General also issued a statement from Kabul, welcoming that day’s decision by Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission to forego a run-off vote and to declare Hamid Karzai as the winner of the 2009 presidential elections.  He said that Afghanistan now faces significant challenges and the new President must move swiftly to form a Government that is able to command the support of both the Afghan people and the international community.  (See Press Release SG/SM/12582-AFG/343.)

For information media. Not an official record.