Friday's attack is one of the most deadly in the world body's history, with at least 18 dead and many more wounded. Ban said at 11 in the morning local time, a car bomber attacked the Abuja compound, which houses 26 humanitarian and development agencies and hundreds of staff. "We do not yet have precise casualty figures but they are likely to be considerable," said Ban. "A number of people are dead; many more are wounded." Ban said he is dispatching his deputy, Asha Rose Migiro, who was in Addis Ababa for an African Union meeting, to the Nigerian capital immediately to assess the situation. She will be accompanied by the U.N.'s security chief Gregory Starr. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on Boko Haram, an Islamist group with links to al-Qaida that has claimed other bombings in Nigeria.
A few hours after the blast, a Boko Haram spokesman telephoned a correspondent for VOA's Hausa service and said the group carried out the attack and warned that "this is just the beginning." The spokesman said the bombing was in response to the government's sending more troops to Nigeria's northeastern Borno state. The soldiers were sent there to stabilize the security situation after an increase in suspected Boko Haram assassinations and bombings. Meanwhile, a U.N. spokesman in New York, Farhan Haq, told reporters that there had been no previous threat on the U.N. Abuja compound and that it was a well-protected facility, including by a series of barriers and gates. "The car got through a couple of gates that were defended by security guards," said Haq.
"How that happened, how they got past security, we will have to determine how that was the case. But we will try to investigate how our defenses were breached." Haq said the U.N. has been increasing its security at facilities worldwide to fortify buildings against the evolving and varied threats they face. At U.N. headquarters, there was a visibly increased presence of armed security and city police outside the building following Friday's events. In the U.N. Security Council a moment of silence was observed. The Secretary-General then told the council that the Abuja attack would not deter the United Nations from its vital work, but he warned that threats to the institution are growing.
"This outrageous and shocking attack is evidence that the U.N premises are increasingly being viewed as soft targets by extremist elements around the world," added Ban. The U.N. suffered its deadliest attack on August 19th , 2003 when a suicide bomber struck its headquarters in Baghdad. A total of 22 people were killed, including the chief of the mission. In December 2007, the U.N. compound in the Algerian capital, Algiers, was also hit. Seventeen staff were killed and 40 others injured. The head of U.N. security resigned over charges of security lapses that may have prevented the attack.
Peter Lundberg, the deputy UN humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, wrote in the French newspaper Le Monde that just 15% of the UN aid appeal for one of the world's worst humanitarian crises has been received. Over the next six months, 242 million dollars (£193 million) is needed to help 1.8 million people, he said. "Without sufficient financing, the World Food Program (WFP) will have to reduce its vital support," he wrote.
The UN said four countries including Nigeria are facing a humanitarian crisis
Half a million children in north-east Nigeria are suffering from severe malnutrition, Mr Lundberg warned. "Without treatment, one in five will die." WFP's Nigeria office did not respond to a request for more details on what aid would be cut and when. Nigeria is part of what the UN has called the largest humanitarian crisis since the world body was founded in 1945, with more than 20 million people in four countries facing possible famine. The other nations are South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.
Mr Lundberg said the UN has appealed for one billion dollars (£780 million) in aid this year for Nigeria, where an estimated 4.7 million people in the north-east are in urgent need of food aid. Nigeria's military has been fighting to win back areas that have been under the control of the Boko Haram extremist group. The Islamic insurgency in the vast north-east has disrupted both markets and farming, creating the hunger crisis.
UN to cut food aid for Nigeria crisis over lack of funds - BelfastTelegraph.co.uk
Following a visit to the world's largest refugee settlement in northern Uganda with the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware told The Associated Press on Saturday that the U.S. "can deliver more food aid at less cost" through foreign food aid reform. The United States spent roughly $2.8 billon in foreign food aid last year and is the world's largest provider of humanitarian assistance. But current regulations require most food aid to be grown in the U.S. and shipped under an American flag. "It's taken in some cases six months for those products to actually get here," Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee told the AP. "We have people coming over the border (from South Sudan). They need food. We can actually buy the food cheaper, use our taxpayer dollars cheaper."
The two senators on Friday toured a food distribution site at the refugee settlement, which holds more than 270,000 South Sudanese who recently fled the three-year civil war in the East African nation. The U.N. says South Sudan is part of the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II, with roughly 20 million people there and in Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen facing possible famine. Two counties in South Sudan were declared famine areas in February. The senators watched as South Sudanese divided sacks of corn and cereals during a food distribution. Behind them, snaking lines of refugees waited for their rations of food that last for 40 days.
The Bidi Bidi settlement is a sprawling complex of mud-brick houses that hold some of the world's most desperate people. With little respite from the fierce sun, arguments broke out at the food distribution site. "We don't have enough food," said Madra Dominic, one of the waiting refugees. "Right now they are reducing (food)." Uganda's government has said it is near "breaking point" and that there could be serious food shortages if more outside aid doesn't arrive. In March, Trump proposed a budget that would cut 28 percent of funding for diplomacy and foreign aid, singling out the Food for Peace program that funds a majority of U.S. foreign food assistance. The budget plan still requires approval by Congress.
Both Coons and Corker defended humanitarian aid, and argued that lifting restrictions on where foreign food aid is grown and how it is shipped would feed more people. Corker blamed a "cartel in Washington" of maritime companies and "a small group of people in Washington" who cause less people to eat. "Americans have real questions about whether their money is making an impact (abroad)," Coons told the AP. Last year, Coons and Corker co-sponsored a law which allows flexibility in how a portion of foreign food aid is grown and delivered. About $900 million of food aid now can be grown near the site of a crisis overseas and shipped under any flag.