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Memorial Ceremony to honour colleagues killed in Kabul on 17 January 2014

20 January 2014
Memorial Ceremony to honour colleagues killed in Kabul on 17 January 2014

Remarks by Mr. Michael Møller
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva
Memorial Ceremony to honour colleagues killed in Kabul on 17 January 2014

Palais des Nations, in front Room XX
Monday, 20 January 2014 at 11:00 a.m.

Mr. President of the Human Rights Council
Distinguished Ambassadors
Madam High Commissioner
Dear Colleagues and Friends:

We come together in mourning. On Friday of last week, we lost dedicated colleagues from throughout our United Nations family, together with many others from our partner organizations, in a senseless and horrific terrorist attack in Kabul.

Please join me first in a minute of silence in honour of the United Nations colleagues and friends – Basra Hassan of the United States, Nasrin Jamal of Pakistan, Khanjar Wabel Abdallah of Lebanon and Vadim Nazarov of Russia – and all those lost on Friday.

[Minute of silence]

I thank you all for being here. This commemoration has been organized at short notice simply because we all felt the need to be together to share the sadness and shock, to pay our respects collectively as a United Nations family, and to pledge to take forward the work of our colleagues. I am grateful also that many have joined us from the Special Session of the Human Rights Council to show their solidarity at this time of grieving and I thank the President for his commitment in this regard.

We gather here in front of poignant reminders of other tragedies where the United Nations lost irreplaceable staff – the 22 colleagues killed in Baghdad in August 2003 and the 17 colleagues lost in December 2007 in Algiers – and the all too many others lost over the years. But, acts of terrorism and attacks on our values and principles will not discourage us in our mission.

The threat to United Nations staff is real – and increasing. As the Secretary-General has often stressed, we have a moral duty to protect the men and women of the United Nations. All perpetrators of these heinous acts must be held to account.

While we have been in this situation before, we will never get used to it. We will not get complacent. Each time, the pain of loss is deep and lasting. Each life lost in the line of duty is one life lost too many.

Dear Friends:

Our colleagues came from across the world to help the people of Afghanistan. The United Nations remains fully committed to continuing that work, and to supporting the people of Afghanistan at this complex time of transition to shape a prosperous and peaceful future.

Each one of our colleagues is a source of inspiration. They gave their best to the United Nations and to the people of Afghanistan. Talented men and women, from all walks of life, united in their conviction that one person’s suffering is everyone’s responsibility.

We honour their memory by carrying forward their work in the service of the people who need us the most.

May they rest in peace.