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UN Chief to Push for Counter-Terrorism Measures


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has returned from an emotional visit to Algiers where a car bomb ripped through the U.N. compound December 11, demolishing the offices of the U.N. Refugee Agency and its Development Program and killing 17 U.N. staff members. From VOA's New York bureau, correspondent Barbara Schoetzau reports the Secretary General says he plans to push for counter-terrorism measures worldwide.

In an emotional address to staff at U.N. headquarters in New York, Mr. Ban described the scene of devastation at the U.N. compound in Algiers and his meetings with survivors and the families of victims.

He says many family members pleaded with him to do more to fight terrorism. The Secretary General says he will redouble his efforts to get U.N. counter-terrorism strategies implemented and to strengthen global staff security.

"Above all, the experience strengthened my resolve to do everything in my power to improve the security of our staff," he said. "I will soon present a proposal for a review of U.N. security worldwide. I will ask governments to act on their obligations under General Assembly resolution 59-276, which spells out that the primary responsibility for insuring the safety and security of the United Nations staff and premises rests with host country."

A North African branch of al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the bombings, calling the U.N. a slave of France and the United States. Mr. Ban says the United Nations must do a better job of explaining its role in the world.

"We must explain to the public and the media the role of the United Nations wherever we operate, why we are there, what we do and what we stand for and what we don't," he said. "We must make clear we are not there to represent the interests of any one group of nations. We must make clear that we are there to clear mines, build schools, run clinics, advance the rules of law, help protect the environment and help protect human rights. In short, to build better lives for the men women and children we exist to serve."

The Secretary General returned with the flag that flew outside U.N. House in Algiers. He said it will be displayed at U.N. headquarters in New York as a reminder of the sacrifices United Nations staffers make working for peace.