Terror attacks strike people ‘from all walks of life, the UN included’

UN Geneva/Violaine Martin
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva at the Commemoration ceremony of the terrorist attacks against the United Nations Mission in Baghdad and Algiers on the World Humanitarian Day, Palais des Nations, Geneva.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

The terrorist attack on UN headquarters in Iraq in 2003 that claimed the lives of 22 people should serve as a reminder that the organization’s locally recruited staff often face the greatest dangers in the world’s most hostile places, amid increasing attacks on humanitarians, the head of the United Nations in Geneva said on Thursday.

Speaking just ahead of the 15th anniversary of the Baghdad atrocity, at the UN’s main World Humanitarian Day event in the Swiss city, Michael Møller said that for the fifth year in a row, more than 100 humanitarians have lost their lives while at work.

“That horrible afternoon in Iraq does not stand in isolation,” he noted. “It was followed by other attacks against the United Nations. At the end of 2007 we lost 17 colleagues in Algiers. Last year alone, 148 peacekeepers and 139 humanitarian workers were killed.”

Turning to the attack in Baghdad, which led to the UN General Assembly’s decision in 2008 to create an annual day of remembrance for humanitarian workers on 19 August, Mr. Møller recalled UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s description of those who were killed as “the best of the best, the most committed of the committed, the hope of the UN until their lives were cut short”.

The victims of the attack were also the “hope and the future” of the organization, he said, adding that “our blue flag only flies because committed people wave it”.

UN Geneva/Violaine Martin
Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva speaking at the World Humanitarian Day event at Palais des Nations, Geneva.

The UN’s top official in Geneva also noted that while many of the victims were international staff, it is the organization’s local workers who “are always faced with more serious situations”.

“When international staff leave following violent incidents, local staff often remain to continue the UN’s work in the world’s most dangerous places,” Mr. Møller added.

His comments echoed a video message by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who paid tribute to those who died “in the service of peace, development and human rights” in the attack on the Canal Hotel attack in Baghdad 15 years ago.

Their loss was not in vain, the UN chief insisted. Among the dead was Sergio Vieira de Mello, who in addition to serving as the UN’s top official in Iraq, was UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“I was always impressed by the way he embodied UN values and our spirit of service,” Mr Guterres said, sentiments shared by Master of Ceremonies on Thursday, Ahmad Fawzi, who was Mr. de Mello’s spokesperson in Iraq, and avoided the blast after being recalled temporarily to London shortly before the attack.

“We have been targeted again and again and again,” Fawzi said, noting that terror attacks had claimed thousands of lives all around the world “from all walks of life, the UN included”.

UN Geneva/Violaine Martin
Kahtan Al-Orfali, father of Omar Kahtan Mohamed Al-Orfali, victim of the 19 August 2003 terrorist attack against the United Nations Mission in Baghdad, speaking at the World Humanitarian Day event at Palais des Nations, Geneva.

Among the other speakers at the event in Geneva was Khatan al-Orfali, whose son Omar was killed in the Baghdad attack while he was working for international aid organization Christian Children’s Fund of Canada.

In a moving speech in which Mr al-Orfali said that his only son’s wish had been to help others, and described the young man’s joy at finding a job, he appealed for fresh information about the circumstances surrounding the attack.

“Until today we do not know how this vicious crime was committed so quickly and so easily,” he said. “We still do not know who allowed the car bomb through.”

And although the Canal hotel that served as the UN’s headquarters was heavily protected, “we still don’t know who gave the perpetrators the intel”, Mr al-Orfali said, or “who financed them, what were the results of the investigation, results that we are entitled to know.”

Despite the pain of his loss, and in a message of hope to the organization, he made a final appeal to the UN, “to remind this great organization that the peoples of the world still believe in the UN’s humanitarian role. We expect a lot from the UN and hope it will not let us down.”

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Crime and drugs in West and Central Africa: Security Council highlights ‘new alarming trends’

Lies and reality about incomes and wealth in the EU

Thursday’s Daily Brief: ambulance attack in Libya, #GlobalGoals defenders, human rights in Cambodia, Swine Fever

How tech is helping the agriculture sector curb carbon emissions

Who holds the key to the future of biotechnology? You do

The road ahead to building a more sustainable world

EU to Turkey: No other ties than €3+3bn to upkeep refugees

UN rights chief ‘strongly’ condemns ‘shocking’ mass executions in Saudi Arabia

Thailand gave healthcare to its entire population and the results were dramatic

The end of Spitzenkandidat: EU leaders concluded unexpectedly on EU top jobs

Does the Greek deal strengthen the Eurozone? Markets react cautiously

Innovations for Content Professionals at the DCX exhibition 2018 in Berlin, in association with The European Sting

Safe spaces offer security and dignity for youth, and help make the world ‘better for all’: Guterres

Volkswagen getting away with it in Europe

Is Germany yielding to pressures for more relaxed economic policies?

EU prepares a banking union amidst financial ruins

UN chief sends condolences to families of Malawi flood victims

Here are four ways ASEAN can help entrepreneurs thrive – especially women

Brexit: With May gone the Tory divide is to sink the UK despite Brits wanting to ‘Remain’

Migration Crisis: how to open the borders and make way for the uprooted

FROM THE FIELD: Children in warzones denied right to education

What the world will look like after the Iran and 5+1 deal; the US emerges as major power broker in Middle East

Saudi Arabia: UN experts push for prompt release of women human rights defenders

4 essential qualities for digital leaders

Social Committee teaches Van Rompuy a lesson

European elections: A chance to repel both nationalism and no-deal Brexit

Will Merkel ever steer the EU migration Titanic and restore her power in Germany?

Charlotte in Ghana

The world invested almost $2 trillion in energy last year. These 3 charts show where it went

5G will drive Industry 4.0 in the Middle East and Africa

Social inclusion: how much should young people hope from the EU? 

Globalization is changing. Here’s how your business can adapt

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Ebola in DR Congo, malnutrition in Laos, baby health, support for Sahel force, #ClimateAction

The EU-US trade agreement, victim of right-wing extremists and security lunatics

MEPs vote for upgrade to rail passenger rights

Guatemala Dos Erres massacre conviction welcomed by UN human rights office

‘Bring to life’ precious moments caught on film or tape, UN agency urges on World Day

Germany loses leading export place

Why is the EU launching a doomed policy in stopping immigrant waves? What are the real targets?

Tackling water scarcity: 4 ways to pull H20 out of thin air

Australia needs to intensify efforts to meet its 2030 emissions goal

European Labour Authority ready to start working in October as decision is taken on new seat

Alice in Colombia

The 28 EU leaders don’t touch the thorny issues

‘Historic moment’ for people on the move, as UN agrees first-ever Global Compact on migration

Ukrainian civil war: Is this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?

How drones can manage the food supply chain and tell you if what you eat is sustainable

“The Sea is vast as it admits all rivers”, Ambassador Yang Yanyi of the Chinese Mission to EU gives her farewell address in Brussels

India is investing more money in solar power than coal for first time

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

IMF asks Europe to decide on bank resolutions and the Greek Gordian knot

An economist explains the pros and cons of globalization

10th ASEM in Milan and the importance of being one: EU’s big challenge on the way to China

Ghana will grow faster than any other economy this year, the IMF says why

Amsterdam is developing a fleet of autonomous boats to reduce city traffic

5 futuristic ways to fight cyber attacks

In aftermath of Libya airstrike deaths, UN officials call for refugees and migrants to be freed from detention

Germany may prove right rejecting Commission’s bank resolution scheme

Lessons from dealing with the collapse of Lehman Brothers

The right approach to addressing overcapacity problem from a Chinese perspective

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s