UNHCR shocked, outraged by Baghdad bomb attack
19 August 2003
GENEVA - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees today denounced the bomb attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad as an act of senseless violence.
"We are shocked and outraged by the attack which ultimately is aimed at the Iraqi people that the United Nations is trying to help," said High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers.
UNHCR is one of several UN agencies currently working in Iraq. UNHCR officials said they had no reports of casualties among its own staff, who are based in a separate building, about 1.5 kilometres from the bombed UN headquarters at the Canal Hotel.
Initial reports indicated that several persons were killed in the bombing, while dozens of UN staff were injured, including the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.
Some 300 UN personnel, most of them Iraqis, were based in the main UN headquarters building, which was badly damaged in the attack.
"This senseless attack is a setback to the UN's humanitarian efforts to aid Iraqis who have been through decades of suffering," Lubbers said.
The UN refugee agency has been working to assist Iraqis returning to their homes from refugee camps in neighbouring countries, as well as aiding internally displaced persons going back to their homes. The agency also operates various assistance programmes to help Iraq's refugee populations, who number some 100,000 people, most of them Palestinians.