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UN staff worldwide march in silent memorial

UN staff worldwide march in silent memorial to those killed in Baghdad bombing

United Nations duty stations around the world organized silent marches today in memory of their colleagues and friends who were killed, and in solidarity with those who were injured, in the terrorist attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad last week.

At UN Headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Kofi Annan joined hundreds of marchers in a memorial circuit around the fountain in front of the Secretariat building's main entrance to honour his Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and the 22 others killed in the attack. A number of members of permanent missions joined in.

At the UN's European headquarters in Geneva, hundreds of employees marched from the Pregny Gate to the Place des Nations and then back to the Gate again.

The bodies of five of the dead staff members were flown out of Baghdad today to Amman, Jordan, where UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Mark Malloch Brown received them. They were Reham al-Farra, Jean-Selim Kanaan, Chris Klein-Beekman, Fiona Watson and Nadia Younes.

“Alive you changed all of us you touched,” Mr. Malloch Brown said in a ceremony. “Now your deaths have changed our very organization. You have broken our hearts and inspired us.

“You leave us the now even harder task of finishing what you began; but your sacrifice must be our commitment. Now we return you to your families, and they to the life beyond. God speed, for you have earned it,” he concluded.

Of the 23 killed, 19 were UN staff - 11 internationals and 8 nationals.

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette was set to leave New York tonight for Geneva to attend a religious memorial service on Thursday morning for Mr. Vieira de Mello, who at the time of his death was on leave from his post as High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In the afternoon, Ms. Fréchette will attend a commemoration jointly organized by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. On Friday morning, she will attend a memorial for all staff members who lost their lives in the Baghdad bombing.


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