Aid Agencies Retreat From Iraq

U.S. soldiers make way as the car moves carrying the remains of an U.N Iraqi worker, draped in a UN flag, for funeral services, from the bombed U.N. compound in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday Aug.25, 2003. On Tuesday Aug 19, a deadly truck bomb exploded near the United Nations building, in which 23 people got killed and 100 others wounded AP

In the wake of the bombing that killed 23 people at the United Nations Baghdad headquarters, some survivors are now accusing the U.N. of making them, in effect, sitting ducks.

As the U.N. mission in Baghdad works to put the devastating truck bomb attack behind it, the organization finds itself embattled in a controversy, reports CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier.

CBS News has learned that some of the U.N. employees evacuated from Baghdad believe their bosses put the mission ahead of their safety once, and may do it again.

Survivors of last Tuesday's attack confronted their bosses in a heated, closed-door meeting in Amman Monday.

A source that attended said employees asked why the U.N. kept them in Baghdad prior to the suicide attack, even though the organization was already at a threat level of four.

By the U.N.'s own definition, a level four alert should have mandated the organization to suspend operations and evacuate its people.

"That is supposed to happen. I don't want to elaborate on why we are here, we are here, and we are now supposed to manage the situation, and security to protect our people," says Nicholas Rademeyer, a U.N. security officer.

Confronted by CBS' Dozier with the fact he broke his own organization's rules, Rademeyer said, "I don't want to comment on that."

Nearly a week after the bombing, many U.N. staffers are trying to decide if it's wise to come back here. And they're asking hard questions abut why the U.N. violated its guidelines for protecting its employees.

Rademeyer insists the U.N. did try to minimize the threat to staff, with extra security precautions. But he says reaching out to Iraqis, means you can't operate from a completely closed fortress.

"It's very very hostile environment we're operating in," says Rademeyer. "The fact of the matter is, we're the United Nations, we are here to provide a service to the people of this country."

But adding to the threat is a new communiqué today on a Web site used by al Qaeda. The group says it carried out last week's attack because the United Nations is under the thumb of the Bush administration. The group vowed to strike again.

This weekend, the International Red Cross announced it's sending many foreigners home. The group received intelligence that it might be the next terror target, and decided the only way to keep its people safe, is to get them out. That's a call the U.N. has yet to make.
  • Lauren Johnston

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