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Secretary-General to Hold High-Level Staff Meeting on Threats to UN Security

Secretary-General to Hold High-Level Staff Meeting on Threats to UN Security

Secretary-General to Hold High-Level Staff Meeting on Threats to UN Security

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will convene a meeting of the organization's top officials on Friday to discuss the serious security challenges facing the organization in Afghanistan and other parts of the world. Mr. Ban appealed to the members of the Security Council for their support during an emergency session Thursday - a day after an attack on a U.N. guesthouse in Kabul killed five staffers.

The U.N. Secretary-General said Friday's meeting will focus on the growing threat to the United Nations in places across the world where it operates.

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

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Mr. Ban cited the bravery of U.N. security personnel during Thursday's early morning raid of the guesthouse, in which gunmen shot at victims and then detonated grenades and suicide vests.

"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," he said. "Without their heroism, there could have been more casualities, victims."

Mr. Ban told reporters that would also brief the General Assembly on Friday.

"I will ask for expedited action for our security mesures, so that we can meet the dramatically escalated threat to U.N. staff, now widely considered to be a 'soft target', as well as provide support for victims and their families," said Mr. Ban.

With the second-round of the Afghan presidential elections little more than a week away, Mr. Ban said the United Nations is considering a number of short-term measures to help facilitate its work, including consolidating its staff in Kabul and around the country.

"We are exploring the feasiblity of bringing in additional security units to guard U.N. facilities and will ask [the] international community to step up its support," said Ban Ki-moon.

He said he would consider all possiblities, including hiring private security contractors to protect U.N. staff.

The primary responsiblity for U.N. security resides with the host country. Mr. Ban said that Afghan President Hamid Karzai called him earlier Thursday and assured him of tightened security support for the U.N. mission.

For its part, the Security Council reiterated its strong condemnation of the attack and its Taliban perpetrators. The council said it looks forward to the secretary-general's detailed proposal for improving U.N. security measures.