Inner City Press


In Other Media-e.g. Somalia, Ghana, Azerbaijan, The Gambia   For further information, click here to contact us          .

Home -

Search is just below this first article

Top 10 '07 UN Stories

These reports are also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07 7/19/07 6/29/07 6/14/7 6/1/7

How to Contact Us


Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"

Inner City Press Podcast --

UN's Review of Algiers Bombing is Slow and Thus Far Secret, As Questions Multiply

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, January 14 -- A month after the bombing of UN premises in Algiers, the head of the UN's own Department of Safety and Security David Veness delivered a report to Ban Ki-moon, the UN's Secretary-General. Secret is the operative word: on Monday at the UN, Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban, "at what point do you think some of these reports would be made public, where you feel comfortable with the public, or at least the staff, seeing what the findings are?" Ban replied, "I think it is not appropriate at this time to make any interim report public.  When there is a time, then we will let you know about our findings and recommendations."

            Following the August 19, 2003 bombing of the UN's Iraq headquarters in the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, similar interim and internal reports were begun. A month after that bombing, then-Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed Finland's former president Martti Ahtisaari to chair an "Independent Panel on the Safety and Security of UN Personnel in Iraq." Ahtisaari quickly appointed three others to assist him, traveled to Baghdad, Amman and Geneva, and delivered a report on October 20, 2003, which was made public two days later. The report, among other things, criticized the UN for ignoring signs of a worsening security situation in Baghdad.

            What has been learned, in the four years since? Many UN insiders question why a month has been wasted on an internal review which one knew needed to be superseded by an outside investigation. These insiders are troubled that there is not even a commitment that the outside review will be made public. At Monday's UN noon briefing, most questions revolved about the withheld internal report, and warnings the UN may or may not have received. Beyond the UN's Senegalese security coordinator in Algiers, Inner City Press is told by knowledgeable sources that a staffer of the UN's Department of Field Support, previously Department of Peacekeeping Operations, on information and belief from within the MINURSO mission in Western Sahara, also conveyed relevant information.

Mr. Ban and his team in Algiers, December 18, 2007

At Monday's briefing, a correspondent who Kofi Annan called a cheeky schoolboy questioned persistently about Ban's statement that no warning had been received. Inner City Press read into the record what Mr. Ban had said, that "the United Nations has never received any advanced warnings from whatsoever sources on this issue," and then asked:

"I wanted to make sure, number one, that that definitely includes, for example, the UN Development Program.  Because it said that the coordinator for security in Algeria was this guy Mark de Bernis of UNDP.  When he said this, did he mean the United Nations, the entire system?"

            The spokesperson said yes, the entire system and that she didn't know if Mr. Veness spoke to de Bernis. Last Wednesday, Inner City Press asked UNDP's Office of Communications to "describe the role in security in Algeria of UNDP's Marc de Stanne de Bernis, including confirming or denying that he ever received requests to raise the threat level, or phase, in Algeria." The request was reiterated to UNDP on Monday, but still without response. Back on January 8, Inner City Press had asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson, "Was Mr. de Bernis himself actually in charge of raising the level or did he have to run it by somebody above himself?" The spokesperson then said, "All this will be in the report that Mr. Veness will submit on the 11th.  I am just asking you to wait until the 11th." But January 11th came and went with no information being released. On Tuesday, January 15, the spokesperson said that the new panel is expected to be named "early next week." Watch this site.

* * *

These reports are also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

  Because a number of Inner City Press' UN sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep the information flowing.

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Search WWW Search

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540