News: UN internal report on Algeria bombing accuses 7 individual staff members.

UN Algeria bombingAn internal UN report assigns blame to at least seven UN officials for one of the organization's greatest security breakdowns ever - the Dec. 11 bombing of UN headquarters in Algeria - in which 17 UN staff died, including one of our colleagues.

The report also criticizes the Algerian government ignoring requests by the Algiers-based UN staff for additional security barriers and other preventive measures, even after a local al Qaeda group publicly demonized the presence of international organizations in the city.

The assessment — the organization's third on the bombing — was written by a five-member panel led by former U.N. legal adviser Ralph Zacklin.

Even before the report came out, David Veness, the head of UNDSS, still on the job despite his resignation offer, admitted the "internal UN" warnings flags out of the Algiers office had been clear, months before the blast. The Algiers-based security officer Babacar Ndiaye, who died in the terrorist attack, had been reporting his concerns to headquarters as early as April 2007.

The Zacklin report, unlike the two previous U.N. inquiries, was intended to assign individual responsibilities within the U.N. security system for the failure to prevent or prepare for the attack, in which an explosives-laden truck rammed into the UN office killing 17 UN staff and 7 bystanders.

Those named in the report include six UNDSS (U.N. Department of Safety and Security) and the UNDP Representative at that time. (Full)

As a UN staff member, I can only applaud the investigation and the assignment of individual responsibilities. I wish the internal system would be revamped to ensuring we continue reducing the risk aid workers are exposed to. As a wise man once said: "You might not be able to reduce the threat, but you surely should reduce the risk!".

However, I have doubts the system will change without drastic measures. While we are lucky to have a well functioning security system inside our own agency, where the risks staff take are handled seriously, I am regularly faced with the stupidity of a non-functional UN security apparatus, bogged down in administration and escalation channels blurring the warning messages from or to the field.

More posts on The Road about aid workers.

Picture courtesy AP


vagabondblogger 09 October, 2008 17:01  

That just sends chills down my spine (and no I'm not quoting anorexic Cindy McCain.) All of us expats rely on locals to help us. We have to trust them and believe that our reliance on each other makes us safer. I've pretty much felt that way wherever I've lived, except for Azerbaijan, where I know, for a dime, my life could be easily sold. I suppose that's truer in more parts of the world, than we would like to believe.

Anonymous,  12 October, 2008 19:46  

Our own agency system while better than DSS is not that good afterall. The reality is still that we go on missions and stay in areas despite excessive threats and ignore direct signals as well as direct threats.

Look not further that Sudan. I would not be surprised if there within 6 - 12 months are a number of staff killed.

Post a Comment

To avoid spamming and profanity, comments will only show up after I (manually) clear them.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Kind people supporting The Road to the Horizon:
Find out how you can sponsor The Road

  © Blogger template The Business Templates by 2008

Back to TOP