Nigeria: UN confirms nine staff dead in bomb explosion

By Emeka Umejei – Lagos: The United Nations office in Nigeria has confirmed nine  staff  of the agency dead in the Friday suicide bomb attack on its headquarters in  Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja. In a press statement signed by Agathe Lawson, acting Resident Coordinator for the UN System in Nigeria, the UN confirmed the figure while acknowledging that assessment of the situation is ongoing.

“The UN is still assessing the human toll. Nine UN staff members are confirmed dead and several more are hospitalized with injuries.  This figure does not include the deaths of any non-UN staff including security and visitors. The casualty numbers may change as the UN continues its assessment and more information flows in from hospitals, staff and their families,” Agathe said.

“The Nigeria UN Country Team is assessing the full impact of yesterday’s bombing attack of the UN House, and continues with its efforts to ensure that the people affected are receiving medical care and support.”

According to the press statement, the UN House in Abuja includes 26 United Nations agencies and about 400 staff.

Stating further, the UN emphasised that the bomb, which occurred at approximately 10:20 am on Friday 26 August, caused extensive damage to the entire building.

 “These deaths and injuries are a grievous blow to the UN family and our national partners. We have lost motivated, bright, selfless people who were working only for the good of Nigeria and the world. Our priority now is to ensure those who are injured and the families of those who died are cared for,” Agathe Lawson stated.

“Our second and urgent priority is to ensure the UN operations continue. We will not be deterred in our mission to work to improve the lives of Nigerians. This is why we are here.” The UN also disclosed that in order to provide information to staff and their families, the UN Nigeria office has established a 24-hour Emergency Helpline. UN councillors will operate four telephone lines to provide staff and their family information and initial counselling.