UN declares offices off-limits [Nation (Kenya)]
(Nation (Kenya) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The United Nations has introduced staggered working hours and arranged for some of their staff to work from home to reduce their exposure in case of terror attacks.
These, among a raft of other measures, have been introduced to reduce congestion at the UN complex and its vicinity following the heightened threats of terror in the country.
In a communication to staff, the Director-General of UNON and Designated Official for Kenya Ms Sahle-Work Zewde noted that Kenya had been a consistent target of terrorist groups over the last few months, the latest tragic attacks being on 16 May at the Gikomba Market.
"The UN is not immune from these cowardly acts and we remain concerned about your safety and that of your family.
In order to ensure that your work environment remains safe and tranquil, I shall be implementing temporary measures immediate effect," she said.
She directed that access to the UN Recreation Centre and the Commissary be now restricted to UN Staff only, and visitors will not be allowed.
Access will only be granted to those with a valid UN Identification Card. "Please note that while we realise these measures are an inconvenience to you and your family, they are being taken solely with your safety in mind," she said.
Ms Zewde has also immediately closed the UN Petrol Station, and all staff members, agencies with official vehicles will make alternative arrangements for fuelling their vehicles.
The petrol station is next to the main entrance, directly opposite the US embassy.
"Persons without official UN business will not be allowed entry to the UNON complex. Members of staff are asked to cooperate with this measure," she added.
To avoid congestion within and around the complex, all deliveries to the UNON complex would be carried out after working hours, between 6pm and 10pm.
Also, all deliveries will have to be announced beforehand and the registration number and names of the driver provided to the Security and Safety Service in advance.
Section heads have been directed to encourage and exercise the utmost flexibility in introducing flexible work arrangements for staff.
"These arrangements include staggered working hours, telecommuting and compressed work week. This will, inter alia, reduce the congestion along UN Avenue," she said.
Despite reports that the United States envoy had asked for extra security, there was no visible increase in security surveillance at the United States Embassy or the United Kingdom High Commission, even after reports that these two embassies had requested additional security personnel.
A check at both diplomatic facilities revealed nothing more than the regular guards at the gate, although there was a group of General Service Unit men outside the British High Commission.
In a letter sent to US Embassy staff on Friday and reported in the Sunday Nation, US ambassador to Kenya Mr Robert Godec said that Kenyan police officers have stepped up vigilance at the embassy pending the arrival of more US marines from Washington next week.
Last week, US, France, Britain and Australia issued travel advisories against Kenya, with Britain going a step further and evacuating over 500 tourists already in the country.
Last month, UNON wrote to the government of Kenya expressing its concern over the criminal insecurity.
Ms Zewde had earlier met the Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohammed over the same.
"The UNON wishes to report that since the meeting with the Cabinet Secretary, United Nations staff members have been the victims of further violent crimes in Nairobi," she said in a letter to the ministry.
She gave the example of a member of staff who was raided by five armed criminals late March in his residence in Thigiri Rise, Gigiri.
The letter dated March 31 was copied to Interior cabinet Secretary Joseph Lenku, the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo and the Kenyan Mission to UNON Ambassador and Permanent Representative Dr Martin Mbugua Kimani.
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