Thursday, September 1, 2011

U.S.,Germany, France, Canada Shut Embassies in Nigeria

AS a fall-out of the August 26, 2011 suicide bomb attack on the United Nations (UN) building in Abuja, leading Western nations have continued to shut their embassies and consulates in the country.

The latest nations to shut down both their embassies in Abuja and consulates in Lagos are the United States, Germany, Canada and France, which closed shop Monday evening.

UN bodies like the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Organisation (UNIDO), Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which are housed within the bombed UN Building have already closed operations.

This is just as the UN yesterday day maintained that only 23 people died in the Friday attack.

Giving details of the casualties, via a statement, the United Nations Country Team in Nigeria (UNCT) explained that of the 23, 11, including 10 Nigerians and one Norwegian, were UN staff; nine were non-UN staff and three were persons yet to be identified per- sons.

The latest closures follow the decision of the British Government to close its High Commission in Abuja and Consulate in Kaduna on Monday morning. Unconfirmed reports said the commission may relocate to either Ghana or South Africa.

The Western governments may have decided to close their offices despite assurances Monday evening to members of the Diplomatic Corps by both the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Hafiz Ringim, as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Olugbenga Ashiru, that everything would be done to guarantee their safety.

A statement on the U.S. website reads: 'Today is a public holiday, before now, the security was never like this. I think the bomb blast caused it', he said.

In observance of the Eid-el-Fitr non-working public holiday declared by the Nigerian government, the U.S. Embassy in Abuja and Consulate in Lagos will be closed for business on Tuesday, August 30 and Wednesday, August 31.

'Visa applicants who had an interview scheduled for one of those days will be contacted with a rescheduled date.

When The Moment visited the embassy, it discovered that the embassy's security personnel, had barricaded all the roads leading to the embassy, subjecting motorists passing through their vicinity to mild checks.

A passer-by, who identified himself as Anthony Udoka, told The Moment that he observed that additional security checks have been introduced since the bomb blast at the UN building last Friday.

A statement from the United Nations Country Team in Nigeria (UNCT), said identification was ongoing as well as investigation at the premises by the appropriate authorities.

The statement reads in part: "The death toll stands at 23: eleven UN staff -10 Nigerians and one Norwegian, nine non-UN staff and three unidentified others. 26 injured persons remain in hospitals and clinics in the Nigerian federal capital'.

'Every effort is being made to reconcile known facts about non-UN staff on site, such as contracted services, cleaners, security guards, and visitors.'

It also confirmed that eight members of staff on life support systems were evacuated to South Africa on air ambulances on Sunday.

'Four other critically-injured staff were also airlifted to South Africa on Monday,' it said.

The Moment

Related stories: Abuja Blast - UN to Conduct Global Threat Review

Bomb explosion at UN office in Abuja leaves several dead

Video - Suicide blast kills 18 at UN in Nigeria

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