THE DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL — REMARKS AT WREATH-LAYING CEREMONY ON WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY

New York, 19 August 2019

Dear colleagues and friends,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today we have gathered here not only to honour the victims of the Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad, but also to remember and recognize all those who have sacrificed their lives in the service of the United Nations, working for the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

Sixteen years ago, on this day, the worst terrorist attack the United Nations has ever experienced took the lives of twenty-two of our dear colleagues.

Across the years since, so many others have perished in the line of duty, on the frontlines of crisis and in epicentres of dire need.

Civilians, troops, police; women and men of all backgrounds and countries.

[minute of silence]

I would like us now to observe a minute of silence in their honour.

Thank you.

These losses have seared our awareness as members of a close-knit United Nations family.

They have also brought important lessons.

We are changing the way we operate around the world, with strengthened safety and security measures, preparedness training programmes, integrated rapid response, increased counselling and mental health support.

We are doing more to address the needs of surviving staff, as well as families of the victims in their long journey of healing.

This year’s observance highlights women humanitarians. Their presence makes our efforts more effective, from addressing health epidemics to providing support to victims of gender-based violence. Thanks to their efforts millions of people have found protection from conflict and had hope itself rekindled.

Colleagues,

Losing so many of our fellow staff members and personnel all over the world is a terrible blow to our mission.

At the same time, I know that you never lose faith in the role of the United Nations, and that we all, each in our own way, remain determined to fulfil our responsibility to work for peace, development and human rights.

Those who attack the United Nations want to make us afraid, feel weak, and to retreat.

Those we honour today inspire us to be bold and determined to go forward.

We cherish the memory of these courageous and dedicated humanitarians.

Their legacy is lasting and ever present in the families and colleagues they leave behind. It lives on in our commitment to save people from misery and death and in our determination to create a better future for all.

Today, we also extend our condolences and sympathies to the family members who have lost loved ones this year.

Thank you.