Friday, October 31, 2014

Secretary-General’s opening remarks at the Security Council stakeout

Good afternoon. I have just briefed the Security Council on the terrorist attacks against UNAMA [UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan] which happened yesterday where five of our staff were killed and nine were wounded.

I told the Security Council of the heroism of the security officers of UNAMA. For at least an hour, and perhaps more, they held off the attackers, fighting through the corridors of the building and from the rooftop, giving their colleagues time to escape.

Without their heroism, there could have been more causalities, victims.

They were armed only with pistols against assailants carrying automatic weapons and grenades and wearing suicide vests.

Increasingly, the UN is being targeted, in this case precisely because of our support for the Afghan elections. Not counting peacekeepers, 27 UN civilian personnel have lost their lives to violence so far this year, more than half of them in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Yesterday, I said we will not be deterred. We cannot do it alone. We need the support of the Member States. We must realistically assess the situation and put in place more effective protections for our staff as they perform their crucial tasks. This was the main purpose my briefing to the Security Council.

This morning I convened an urgent meeting of the heads of all UN departments, funds and programmes, and agencies to urgently review the evolving security environment and respond appropriately. I am going to chair the Chief Executive Board meeting tomorrow to discuss this matter where the heads of UN funds and programmes, specialized agencies and Bretton Woods institutions will all participate to discuss the security issues.

This afternoon, I asked the Security Council for its support.

This morning I received a phone from President [Hamid] Karzai of Afghanistan who assured me of the tightened security support for UNAMA and I urged him again that he should take immediate action to strengthen the security measures for the premises and staff, for their safety and security.

Tomorrow, I plan to brief the General Assembly. I will ask for expedited action for our security measures, so that we can meet the dramatically escalated threat to UN staff, now widely considered to be a “soft target,” as well as provide support for victims and their families.

Second round of the Afghan Presidential election is only a week away. As I told the Security Council, we are considering a number of immediate short-term measures.

Those include consolidating UN staff in Kabul and around the country. We are exploring the feasibility of bringing in additional security units to guard UN facilities and will ask international community to step up its support.

This will be particularly important during the interim election period, with a special emphasis on areas outside Kabul where UN security is clearly insufficient.

I conclude by stating the obvious. The UN is a civilian operation. We are working there to help Afghanistan’s people but our mission is not safe and [is] vulnerable. We need the full support of the Afghanistan government and the international community.

Thank you very much.