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Sergio Vieira de Mello laid to rest in Geneva

UN envoy for Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello laid to rest in Geneva

With memorial candles, flowers, a public church service and a private burial, the world bade farewell to Sergio Vieira de Mello today, nine days after the top United Nations envoy in Iraq and High Commissioner for Human Rights was killed by a terrorist's bomb in Baghdad.

Mr. Vieira de Mello was laid to rest in a Geneva cemetery in a burial attended only by family members and Secretary-General Kofi Annan's wife, Nane. At the cemetery's entrance, many anonymous mourners offered flowers to the family.

Earlier, more than 1,000 friends and colleagues joined the family at a service in St. Paul's church in Geneva, at the start which 22 candles were lit for the 22 other victims of the attack on the UN compound in Baghdad. Mr. Vieira de Mello's widow, Annie, and his children, Laurent and Adrien, then lit the 23rd candle by his flower-covered coffin.

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette, Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva Sergei Ordzhonikidze and many heads of UN agencies as well Geneva authorities attended the service.

Tomorrow, there will be an official memorial ceremony at the UN headquarters in Geneva for all the victims of the attack.

Meanwhile in Oslo, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed-Larsen, delivered a message on behalf of the Secretary-General at an official ceremony honouring the victims of the bombing.

"Whether clerical worker, lawyer, driver or special representative, Iraqi or international, each of these men and women made a unique and invaluable contribution to our work," Mr. Annan said in his message. "Each was committed to the human rights, sovereignty and well being of the Iraqi people," he added.

At another memorial ceremony in Amman, Jordan, Limya Eltayeb, a staff member of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Baghdad, handed the damaged UN flag from the headquarters in the Iraqi capital to UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown. It will be brought back to New York to be given to the Secretary-General.

Mr. Malloch Brown told 400 UN staff members, Jordanian officials, diplomats and relatives of the dead that it was shocking to him, who had started his UN career in field-based emergency operations, to see coffins draped in blue flags emerging from the great white UN plane, instead of rice bags or refugees.

"Terrorists attacked men and women who represented the soul of our organization," he said, reaffirming the UN's resolve not to be deterred by the attack.

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