‘Stop and listen’ to victims of terrorism, UN chief urges in message marking international day

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe Secretary-General António Guterres speaking at the Wreath-laying Ceremony for the Observance of the 15th Anniversary of the Bombing of the United Nations Headquarters in Baghdad, on 17 August 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York.

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

Recognizing the impact of terrorism on the lives of ordinary people worldwide is the focus of the first observance of an international day that honours victims and survivors.

As UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated, their courage in the face of adversity is a lesson to us all.

“Supporting victims and their families is a moral imperative, based on promoting, protecting and respecting their human rights,” the UN chief said.

His comments came in a message on Tuesday to mark the International Day of Remembrance of, and Tribute to, the Victims of Terrorism.

“Caring for victims and survivors and amplifying their voices helps to challenge the narrative of hatred and division that terrorism aims to spread. We need to provide victims with long-term assistance, including financial, legal, medical and psychosocial support”.

Terrorism continues to pose a serious threat to international peace and security, and Mr. Guterres pointed out that the UN, too, is regularly targeted.

He recalled that this week marked the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the organization’s compound in Baghdad in which 22 people were killed, while some peacekeeping operations are under constant threat.

Although more countries are being affected by terrorism, the UN said most victims can be found in just a handful, namely Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria.

“But after terrorist attacks, we rarely hear about those who were killed and injured; the ordinary women, men, girls and boys, who were going about their daily business when their lives ended or were changed forever,” Mr. Guterres continued.  “We rarely hear about their surviving families, friends and communities, who must learn to live with the burden of terrorism for their entire lives.”

The UN chief said the international day therefore serves as a reminder “to stop and listen to the victims and survivors of terrorism, to raise up their voices and recognize the impact terrorism has on their lives.”

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