Press Releases

    SG/SM/9451
                IK/453
                20 August 2004

    UN Family Stands by Families, Loved Ones of Baghdad Victims, Secretary-General Says in Message on First Anniversary of Attack

    NEW YORK, 19 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the first anniversary of the attack on United Nations Headquarters in Baghdad, on 19 august 2004:

    What happened in Baghdad a year ago today was a personal tragedy -- above all for the families and loved ones of the 22 people who died and those who suffered severe injuries, be they physical, psychological or emotional. It was also a personal tragedy for each and every one of us, because of the dear friends and close colleagues we lost, and because of the direct attack against the blue flag and we who have devoted our lives to the United Nations. All of us have struggled, and are still struggling, to absorb that shock.

    The UN family is no stranger to violence and intimidation, and we have mourned the loss of hundreds of colleagues over the years.  But the attack on the Canal Hotel brought us face to face with danger in a new and more intimidating form -- the danger that we, servants of the United Nations, may have become one of the main targets of political violence. We are now wrestling with wrenching, fundamental questions. Our work is with people.  We must be able to get to them, and they must be able to get to us.  How do we balance this need for openness with security in today’s world?  How do we operate in places where many people want and expect us to help -- and this includes the Security Council -- but some are determined to block our work at any price?  Are we witnessing a paradigm shift, or a tragic phase that will pass?

    The families and loved ones of our fallen colleagues, as well as the survivors and those injured on that awful day, have all mustered extraordinary strength and courage to survive this past year.  Their ordeal continues, and the United Nations family will stand by them in their grief and suffering.  My own agony, discouragement and sense of loss have been profound, not only as a friend but also as the individual who is ultimately responsible for the welfare and security of United Nations staff.  I pray, too, that however long it takes, the perpetrators are held to account, and do not get away with this cold-blooded murder.

    On this sad anniversary, let us pay tribute to the victims, and let us express our sympathy and solidarity with all the bereaved.

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